The Desert Foxes of Algeria need to shake off their disappointing campaign in the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and start well against the Palancas Negras of Angola in the first match of the Group D fixtures.
The coach, Djamel Belmadi, comes into the tournament under pressure but hopes his star-studded side will see off the Antelopes, whom they face for only the second time in the finals.
Algeria and Angola are facing each other for the second time at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Their only previous encounter produced a goalless draw in the group stages of the 2010 edition.
With Algeria making their 20th appearance at the AFCON, they will attempt to win the trophy for the third time, after 1990 and 2019.
Algeria’s two previous AFCON titles were won on North African soil: at home in 1990 and in Egypt in 2019. The only previous time Algeria reached the final outside of North Africa was in 1980, in Nigeria.
This is Algeria’s sixth consecutive appearance at AFCON, their longest streak since qualifying for seven tournaments in a row between 1980 and 1992.
Algeria scored with only one of their 46 shots at the 2021 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. They converted 13 of their 77 shots on their way to the title in 2019.
The Desert Foxes have only lost one of their last 24 fixtures, almost recording a 100 percent record in the AFCON qualifiers, winning all and drawing once. They conceded just twice along the way. They are massive odds-on favorites to win an otherwise weak Group D, and rightly so.
On the other side, Angola is appearing for the ninth time and has gone beyond the group stages only twice (2008 and 2010, the latter as hosts) but has never won a game in the knockout phase of the competition.
Angola is winless in their last eight AFCON matches (D4 L4), their joint-longest drought in the competition. Their last victory was in their 2012 opening group match against Burkina Faso.
Angola’s last three matches of 2023 in all competitions ended goalless (v DR Congo in October, v Cape Verde and Mauritius in November).
Angola is unbeaten in their last five opening matches at a CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament (W1 D4). The last time they lost their first match at an AFCON edition was in 2006 (1-3 v Cameroon).
Angola has scored only two goals in their last seven AFCON matches, with one of them being an own goal.
Mohamed Amoura (3 goals) was the only Algerian player to score more than one goal in the qualifiers for this year’s tournament.
From the statistics, the odds favour Algeria, but they must also be wary of the attacking threats of Palancas Negras.