Tournament favorites Algeria will start off their African Cup of Nations campaign against Angola. While the Palancas Negras want to make it to the knockout stages for the first time since 2010, the North African powerhouse travels to the Ivory Coast in pursuit of a third AFCON crown.
Preview (Algeria vs. Angola)
Algeria is about to make its sixth consecutive AFCON appearance after winning the qualifiers. This is their longest run at the tournament since they participated in seven straight between 1980 and 1992. The Desert Warriors are now rated 30th in the world. They will be trying to avoid embarrassing themselves again as they did in 2021. They failed to defend their championship following a terrible group-stage performance. Following their 2019 regional title victory, Algeria lost all three of their Group E matches. They opened the group stage with a goalless draw against Sierra Leone and then lost to Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Djamel Belmadi’s men are one of seven nations to win two AFCON titles (2). The first in 1990 when they beat Nigeria 1-0 in the final on home soil, and most recently in 2019. Baghdad Bounedjah scored the only goal in the final to claim a 1-0 victory over Senegal. Algeria has won ten of their past thirteen matches in all competitions. It included a victory against Mozambique and Somalia in the World Cup qualifying tournament. They are presently leading Group G going into Monday’s group opener.
When Algeria takes on Angola, who has lost eight of their past nine meetings since March 1985, they will be betting on themselves to maintain that momentum and start the Bouake tournament on a strong note. The two teams’ most recent meeting took place in the Estadio da Cidadela in January 2010 during the Africa Cup of Nations, which was also their first and only AFCON match. There, they drew goallessly. Angola, making their ninth AFCON participation, is making their first trip back to the continental showcase since 2019. In the previous two editions, they were unable to get past the qualifications.
For their AFCON campaign, Belmadi has selected a seasoned 26-man roster that includes former Manchester City forward Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli, and Slimani. With 45 goals in 98 games, Slimani leads the Desert Warriors in scoring right now. He needs three more caps to move up to the top of the country’s all-time appearance list. The pair of Farense midfielder Bachir Belloum, 21, and Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja, 21, have both been included in the Algeria team, even though they have not yet made their professional debut.
This season, Rayan Ait-Nouri has been Wolverhampton Wanderers’ best player in the Premier League. He should start in the back four with Nice right-back Youcef Atal, Rachel Bensebaini, and Issa Mandi. The skilled three of Feghouli, Nabil Bentaleb, and AC Milan player Ismael Bennacer ought to be in the middle of the park, while Fares Chaibi, Mahrez, and Slimani ought to lead the assault once more. Despite having less well-known players than its rivals, Angola has selected a strong 27-man roster. It includes 27-year-old Gelson Dala and Bruno Paz of Konyaspor.
With 15 goals in 37 appearances, Dala—who presently plays for Al-Wakrah in Qatar—is sixth on the country’s scoring list. With To Carneiro, Jonathan Buatu-Mananga, Kalonda Gaspar, and Loide Augusto constituting the back four and protecting Adilson Cipriano da Cruz between the sticks, we anticipate Goncalves to adopt a conservative strategy on Monday. Manuel Keliano, Manuel Cafumana, and Alfredo Kulembe Ribeiro should start in midfield, while Dala should partner with Feliciano Milson and Cagliari forward Zito Luvumbo at the other end of the field.
Algeria 2-0 Angola
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