DStanding in the middle of the tables in this packed Algiers tea room, the man holds his head and ends up letting out a desperate cry, amplified by the crowd facing the two screens which broadcast the twilight Algeria-Côte d’Ivoire Thursday evening . Even if, for a while, everyone had understood that the Algerians were going to leave the Cameroon CAN, Riyad Mahrez’s missed penalty in the 60and minute, while the Elephants lead 3 to 0, ends all hope at close range; worse, it confirms a kind of fatalism that will stick negatively to the Fennecs since the start of the continental competition after a 0-0 against Sierra Leone and a defeat (0-1) against Equatorial Guinea.
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“But where is our invincible team? »
Sofiane Bendebka’s goal of honor (73and) will not save much, neither the match nor the morale of the millions of Algerians knocked out. After the enthusiasm of the beginnings and the fever of the crowning of the Arab Cup in Qatar. From favorites and defending champions, the Greens find themselves in the very last place: 24and out of 24 teams! A shock. In the chaos of the tea room, where the waiters are jostled by the customers leaving their tables abruptly to go out to breathe or insult the whole universe on the sidewalk, the sentences fuse: “It is not possible to play on grounds like that”, “Africans must not organize competitions of this level”, “but where is our invincible team? », « the strongest grigri of Belmadi », etc.
On the roundabout opposite, two parked police vehicles with flashing lights on wait in vain. In anticipation of a victory parade, the city was lightly squared off to avoid overflows and traffic jams. Not worth it.
On social networks, after the unfortunate amazement, the rants and the angry posts, many have hoisted the banner of the sacred union. “Well done guys, we are now focusing on the World Cup play-offs in Qatar! writes Mohamed while tomorrow, Saturday, the draw for the play-off matches will take place. “After 35 winning matches, we can only congratulate Belmadi and his team. We must not forget what they have made us experience over the past three years, ”adds Smaïl. “We weren’t up to the task in terms of defense and cohesion between the stars of the team, we lost so many chances, but hope that, in the future, Belmadi hires more young people, like Ramiz Zerrouki, and that he prepares his players as well as possible”, analyzes Djaâfar.
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Tebboune: “Don’t give up”
Even on the official side, we defend ourselves from letting go of the Fennecs after such a course. The Minister of Youth and Sports, Abderezak Sebgag, reacted immediately: “The defeat of the national team, even if it is heavy, will not diminish its value. That’s football, it happens to lose. As Algerians, be it the government or the people, we are not going to forget all that these players and coach Djamel Belmadi have brought to the country in recent years”. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune also put himself at the bedside of the national team: “A defeat often serves as a lesson and constitutes a motive which catalyzes the enthusiasm and the will of determined and ambitious people to surpass themselves and bring out the best of themselves… Don’t give up… Persevere, believe in your abilities and pursue your ambitions… We assure you of our support and pray to God to guide your steps during your next encounters. »
Support has even come from abroad, as evidenced by this tweet of former Moroccan international Abdeslam Ouaddou: “It’s the law of football. You shone for three years on the continent. Back up to jump better and come back stronger. Important deadlines await you. You stay whatever happens Z’MEN! »
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Belmadi, he, under contract until the end of the year, faces this failure with great serenity. During the press conference after the defeat, he assumes. “I’m the team’s first manager. So it is useless to look for faults with the players. I assume my responsibilities. I’m the one who makes the decisions, who makes the composition of the team, so if something hasn’t happened as desired, it’s me who needs to be seen and I assume whatever happens. there is to assume, ”he says to journalists Thursday evening in Douala. “This is not the scenario we were hoping for. We came to Cameroon with a lot of ambition and concentration to defend our title. I must say that, from the start, nothing went as we would have liked, from the preparation in Doha until our arrival here, nothing went as planned and we did not live up to it. We have to recognize it, ”added the coach. He wanted to keep a cool head, even when a Cameroonian journalist asks him this incredible question: “Coach, I’m going to get straight to the point, isn’t it the spirit of Albert Ebossé that has haunted the Fennecs throughout this CAN? Albert Ebossé, a Cameroonian player who played for the Algerian club JS Kabylie, died in August 2014 following a stone throw that hit him in the head at the end of a match… Belmadi, flabbergasted by the question, doesn’t know what to answer and lets go, controlling his anger at the journalist: “I don’t know who authorized you to enter this room, sir, but it’s professional misconduct. Belmadi definitely didn’t need that.
“Belmadi has faced a very bad alignment of the planets”, estimates Nazim Bessol, author, host of the reference site footafrique.com and director of the Algerian newspaper Botola. “In terms of preparation, the Greens have only had one friendly match [avec le Ghana, NDLR], the one with Gambia having been cancelled. The vagaries of the Covid have greatly destabilized the preparation plans of the Algerians. He was also deprived, at the start of the CAN, of his precious friend and assistant coach Serge Morano, because of Covid, ”explains the expert.
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Other elements also handicapped the Fennecs during this CAN. “As a favourite, everyone is waiting for you. There is pressure to manage. You wear yourself out on a field – very bad – just to dominate the game while in front they just have to wait for the only chance of the goal that kills. It’s not a big team tournament, it’s enough to have very good elements that create surprise. This was our case in 2019 during the CAN in Egypt, we were not expected. This was the case for Zambia when it won the African Cup in 2012 too”, further analyzes Nazim Bessol. “Add to that the very important factor of doubt: we play two games and we miss so many chances that it works on the morale of the players and the staff. Mahrez’s missed penalty kick on Thursday was the height of this defeatism. We don’t believe it anymore. It’s fatal,” concludes the journalist.
But beyond the purely sporting hazards, it seems that Djamel Belmadi has suffered other pressures. A source within the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) recognizes that the coach of the Greens “was unfortunately taken out of the field to be parasitized by the political dysfunctions of the federation”.
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“Leave me serene to work”
“Djamel has an incredible quality: he tells the leaders of Algerian sport that he has an obsession, the stability of the football authorities and the maintenance of his coaching bubble far from bureaucratic or power concerns”, testifies a connoisseur of the file. “Belmadi repeats, even begs, that he wants to devote himself 100% to his coaching mission, to be with his players to the fullest and think only of that. But he finds himself impacted, because of the problems within a federation that is looking for itself, by completely subsidiary questions, which parasitize him: the state of the land in Algeria, the availability of PCR tests for its elements, the management plane tickets, the ego of such and such a local football official… ”says a source. “He can’t take it anymore. His staff and his players feel it, it affects them, negatively, and it creates an atmosphere not conducive to serenity, a key word that Djamel continues to acclaim. “Leave me calm to work!” “However, he was not this CAN: he played with almost three different teams”, we continue.
And now ? “We must hope that the shock of the CAN produces something, not only among the players, but especially among the leaders of Algerian football”, hopes a former official of the FAF. And to conclude: “Let Belmadi work, and do the cleaning once and for all where necessary, let’s stop talking about mission expenses, benefits and careers for sports bureaucrats and think about the essential: sport and victory! »
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