Mahrez powers Algeria into AFCON final

By Soccer Blog | Jul 15, 2019

Months after helping Manchester City complete a domestic treble, Riyad Mahrez could be adding a fourth trophy to his cabinet this year in the form of the Africa Cup of Nations after he helped Algeria beat Nigeria in their last four clash in Cairo.

This is Algeria’s first final since 1990, when they won the title on home soil, and winger Mahrez was at the heart of this victory over the Super Eagles. It was the winger’s shot that was deflected by William Troost-Ekong into his own goal, and it was his magical 95th minute free kick that sunk the Super Eagles after Odion Ighalo had levelled matters from the spot.

Algeria had needed penalties to see off Ivory Coast in the last eight, and Mahrez, who had been substituted in the 86th minute in that fixture, seemed determined not to let this one go into extra time. On the balance of play, Les Fennecs deserved the win- they made more of the play despite having a shorter turn around from the quarterfinal.

CAN

Their opponents in the final will be Senegal, who booked their spot with three identical 1-0 knockout wins over Uganda, Benin and Tunisia respectively. A look at CompareYourOdds.com seems to suggest that Algeria are marginal favourites for this clash, and perhaps rightly so- they did defeat Senegal in the group stages of this very tournament. That remains the Teranga Lions’ only loss of the tournament as well as the only goal they’ve conceded in AFCON 2019.

Victory in the final would be massively important for Algeria- they finished a lowly 10th at the last AFCON back in 2017 and failed to qualify for last summer’s World Cup. More interestingly, both Senegal and Algeria are managed by locals- Aliou Cisse in the former’s case and Djamel Belmadi in the latter’s. Both have also previously captained their countries at this tournament.

ACDB

The two sides have squared off four times previously in the history of the tournament, with Algeria winning thrice and one fixture ending in a draw. Senegal have never won the tournament- their previous best was a runners up finish in 2002, also the year they lit up that year’s World Cup in Japan and Korea.

Algeria vs Senegal in Cairo, Egypt (19 July, 2019)- Victor Gomes (RSA as referee)

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