Stupor in Blida. Algeria, which broke the invincibility of the Indomitable Lions dating back to 1998 and the CAN 2000 qualifiers (3-1 defeat) against Ghana, bowed and let slip through the fingers a place for the Cup of world. Cameroon, despite their backs to the wall after the first leg, returned the favor by becoming the first team to win at Blida since 2004 and after more than 40 games without defeat for the Fennecs. A match with a dramatic scenario when the Fennecs were nevertheless a few minutes from qualifying.
After a missed game on home soil last Friday, Cameroon had to react. Coach Rigobert Song also confided that lessons would be learned in order to adjust for the return match. Thing due, thing done, despite the absences of Zambo-Anguissa, Moumi Ngamaleu and Vincent Aboubakar, finally replacing and coming into play at the end of extra time. This victory confirms the state of mind that must prevail in a national team whose DNA is this competitive state of mind. Cameroon is one of those teams that is hardly intimidated or impressed by the atmosphere when they play away, and this siege mentality is typical of this selection always capable of sublimating itself in the face of adversity, internal crises or other difficulties. . A sign of this state of mind, the XXL performance of his Ajax goalkeeper, André Onana, whose last outings have been disputed lately. Lately in difficulty in a configuration where he did not necessarily have to make many saves, he was yesterday in the typical configuration of an excellent Cameroonian goalkeeper: the anchor point of a very busy defense, register in which he showed his best face and played to his unsuspected potential.
“When you know you are in danger, you are no longer in danger. It’s when you don’t know you’re in danger that you’re in danger. That’s what it’s all about, ”said Rigobert Song in the prelude to the return match, a quote that will undoubtedly go down in history. This put pressure on the Algerian team which, after its victory, could imagine having accomplished the most difficult part, but that is without counting on this Cameroonian know-how. After Ahmed Touba’s equalizing goal in the 118and minute, many would have accepted defeat. But the Cameroonians believed in it and, as a sign of fate, the Algerians’ attempts to save time worked in their favor and allowed the Indomitable Lions to have a few additional minutes, during which Toko Ekambi did not flinched at the opportunity to spoil the upcoming party. This victory also symbolizes the risky but successful bet for Samuel Eto’o, who, after his choice to change coach just after the CAN, was expected at the turn with the play-offs when the new coach would not have preparation matches. His team now qualified for the World Cup, Rigobert Song won the opportunity to benefit from the extra time to get to know it better and consolidate its potential, more than seven months from the competition. As he said, his predecessor did a very good job and left a great team at his disposal, qualification for the World Cup assured. It is now time for Coach Rigo to prepare the next step: the consolidation of the team in order to optimize the legacy bequeathed by Antonio Conceicao.
Belmadi resigns, the end of an era
Immediately eliminated, immediately resigned. Belmadi had reported it, he kept his word: in the event of elimination, he will take his responsibilities. It’s done, the great architect of Algeria’s victory at CAN 2019 will no longer be the coach of the Algerian team. While making the World Cup a priority for more than a year, everything collapsed in the space of a few months, bringing a black spot to an undeniably successful career at the head of the Algerian selection. The beginning of the end of his cycle was perhaps ironically the incredible 35-game unbeaten streak achieved by his side. In a context where the Fennecs have always had the resources to save meetings where they could have been in great difficulty and could have lost, the fact of not losing may have unconsciously installed the team in a form of confidence. extreme in his ability to react once his back is against the wall.
Victory, although always essential, has the counter-productive effect of making self-criticism and questioning very difficult given the famous saying “You don’t change a winning team”. Reason why Algeria was actually its own opponent. Although the difficulties displayed are at least in the continuity of certain matches preceding the CAN, like two draws against Burkina Faso on the last day of the 2and phase of the World Cup qualifiers, the lack of success displayed since CAN 2021 is in total contrast to what the team has been able to benefit from in difficult periods. The attack, where Belaïli has long walked on water, is increasingly sluggish and was so during the African Cup, where it was very difficult for the 2019 winner of the CAN to win against to low blocks. Having to start on a new basis, with a new coach, the post-Belmadi period will be a heavy legacy to bear for any coach and, with the deadlines approaching, it will be interesting to follow the direction that the national team will take. In the coming months. His successor could be none other than former Glasgow Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra, already manager of the Algerian team and winner of the Arab Cup in 2021.