Ageless Desert Foxes of Algeria in third pursuit of AFCON

Posted : 06 January 2024

Two-time winners of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Algeria, will face lower expectations as there hasn't been much hype about the team. Nevertheless, they can be dangerous to any team that crosses their path, although they are not considered favorites to win the AFCON diadem.

The Desert Foxes of Algeria have claimed the AFCON cup twice. The first victory was in 1990 when they hosted the tournament, and the second title was secured in the 2019 edition held in Egypt. Algeria also finished as runners-up in the 1980 edition in Nigeria and secured third place in the 1984 and 1988 editions held in Ivory Coast and Morocco, respectively.

Football is a cherished tradition in Algeria, with clubs often outshining the national team in continental championships. Respected Algerian clubs include JS Kabylie, ES Setif, USM Algiers, Aso Chief, and others.

Algeria also takes pride in its legendary figure, Rabah Madjer. Football is considered a religion in Algeria, enhancing socio-cultural interactions. The nation's love for football is exemplified during matches of the national team, with the entire country coming to a standstill.

Algeria generally performs well in tournaments it hosts. In 2009, the U-17s reached the final, and the 1990 AFCON, won by Rabah Madjer and his teammates, stands out as a significant achievement.

After being eliminated from the Group stage of the 2021 AFCON and failing to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, this presents an opportunity for Algeria to restore its respect, at least on the continent.

Meziane Abderrahmane and his teammates are on a mission for the nation, facing three serious contenders who also have the potential to win. As the saying goes in the land of the Fennecs, "Algerians can return to the forefront in the most difficult circumstances."

The Desert Foxes of Algeria first tasted AFCON glory in 1990 when they hosted the tournament. In Group A, they began with a 5–1 victory over Nigeria, followed by a 3–0 win against Ivory Coast and a 2–0 win against Egypt. In the semi-finals, they beat Senegal 2–1 to reach the final, where they defeated Nigeria 1–0 with a goal by Chérif Oudjani.

Twenty-nine years later, in 2019, Algeria became AFCON champions once again, defeating Senegal 1–0 in the final. The second win came with a 1–0 victory against Senegal in Cairo, secured by a deflected shot from Baghdad Bounedjah.

However, their title defense in the 2021 Nations Cup did not go as planned, and the past two years have been challenging for the North Africans.

Looking ahead to AFCON 2024, coach Djamel Belmadi has stuck with an aging nucleus of players mixed with a few fresh legs, spearheaded by Mahrez. Belmadi has spent much of 2023 recruiting and blooding new faces, and while the fresh legs have rejuvenated the side, a firm identity is lacking.

Algeria's performance at AFCON 2024 will play a crucial role in addressing the long-awaited complete overhaul of the aging Desert Foxes of Algeria.



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