A jubilant Djamel Belmadi praised Algeria’s “extraordinary, historic” victory over Senegal to win their second Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title.
Almost 30 years after winning the AFCON on home soil, Algeria were champions again on Saturday night as Baghdad Bounedjah’s deflected second-minute goal secured them a narrow 1-0 win over Senegal.
In an ill-tempered encounter in Cairo, Senegal put Algeria under almost constant pressure following the early goal. However, they were wasteful in the final third with just three of their 12 shots ending up on target.
Although Aliou Cisse’s men were denied a penalty by VAR despite Adlene Guedioura blocking Ismaila Sarr’s cross with his arm.
Nonetheless, Algeria withstood the massive pressure that Senegal had put them under and clung on for victory.
“It’s extraordinary. It’s historic,” Belmadi told beIN Sports.
“This is the first Cup of Nations we have won outside our borders.
“Since 1990, it has been a long, empty passage. We are a football country. We deserve it, I think.
“It was a very complicated match, very difficult. We knew that it was going to be decided on a small detail. And the boys held on.”
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The Algeria boss added: “With the tournament we had, with better attack and better defence, what more? But without the players, I am nothing.
“We tend to forget that they are the main protagonists. They are the ones who play, who apply the instructions. They did it wonderfully – if not better.”
Meanwhile, Riyad Mahrez took to social media to express his pride in leading Algeria to a second AFCON title.
“I am proud to have captained this team and the millions of Algerians who supported us all through the tournament. African Champions!,” the Manchester City winger wrote on Twitter.
Mahrez finished the AFCON with three goals to his name in Algeria’s seven-match unbeaten run.
Fier d'avoir été le capitaine de cette équipe & des millions d'Algériens qui nous ont supportés jusqu'au bout partout dans le monde 🇩🇿💚 Champions d'Afrique !!!! Tahia Djazair #elhamdulillah #TeamDZ @LesVerts pic.twitter.com/CyCyrIF56o
— Riyad Mahrez (@Mahrez22) July 19, 2019