Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi believes his side have a “fifty-fifty chance” of defeating Senegal in tonight’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final.
Algeria will, undoubtedly, enter tonight’s final feeling bullish over their prospects of a first title since 1990 after pulling off some major upsets in eliminating Nigeria and the Ivory Coast in the knockout rounds.
The Desert Warriors have no injury concerns, which could prompt Belmadi to field the same team that defeated Nigeria 2-1 in the semi-finals last Sunday.
Like their opponents Senegal, Algeria have also pulled off a solid defensive showing in the AFCON with just two goals conceded. While Adam Ounas and Riyad Mahrez are among the competition’s top-scorers on three goals each.
And history will be on Algeria’s side in Cairo, Egypt, after winning four of their last five encounters with Senegal. The most recent, in fact, came in Group C last month when they defeated Aliou Cisse’s men 1-0.
Speaking ahead to the final, however, Belmadi refused to get carried away with Algeria’s strong prospects.
“We have a fifty-fifty chance. We defeated Senegal 0-1 in the group stage, but the final is completely different from any other game,” the 43-year-old told Daily News Egypt.
“It will be a tough game for both teams. I wish to win the title to be our gift to the Algerian people.”
Since losing to Algeria, Senegal have won all four of their matches and not conceded a single goal to reach the AFCON final.
Head coach Cisse even reckons that the defeat to Algeria made his players even stronger for the knockout stages.
When asked if he agrees with Cisse’s point of view, Belmadi replied: “Certainly, they reached the final after beating many strong teams, such as Tunisia in the semi-finals.
“We studied Senegal very well as they have very good players, such as Sadio Mane”.
On the threat of Mane, he added: “Senegal is not only about Mane.
“He is a great player as I said, and he plays an important role with this national team and Liverpool, but there are also 10 other players in the Senegalese team.”
The Senegal and Algeria 2019 AFCON final will begin tonight at 21:00 (CET).
— Sean Amadi (@Sean_RMW) July 14, 2019