Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi was impressed by his team’s satisfying outing against an organized Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarter-final on Thursday.
The Desert Foxes defeated the Elephants 4-3 on penalties after playing out to a 1-1 draw following 120 minutes of football at the New Suez Stadium.
At his post-match press-conference, Belmadi praised the doggedness of Ibrahim Kamara’s side which put his players on their toes for the game’s entirety in Suez but believed his side deserved to win the game.
“We had a lot of chances which we didn’t take – we weren’t killers – but I’ll come back to the victory, I’ll be modest, to qualify for the semi-final ahead of the Ivory Coast is an enormous satisfaction,” Belmadi told the media after the game.
“The match was very difficult today, Ivory Coast were compact and organized.
“They could have won the match given they started well with Max Gradel’s chance which hit the post, and then I think we fairly dominated the match [afterwards].”
Furthermore, Belmadi said his piece regarding a dramatic shootout and explained the logic behind introducing Andy Delort in stoppage time of extra time to take a free-kick.
“It went to penalties; we missed one, which guaranteed suspense. There was a lot of talent, a lot of dynamism, this was modern football. If we don’t react we’re not human,” Belmadi said.
“In the team, all players are important, we have 23 players and they are big players, big men too.”
On Delort’s late introduction to take a last-gasp free-kick: “We know that [Delort] has a good strike, we know he can strike it well, so that’s why we wanted him to take this [free kick].”
The North Africans progressed to the semi-final to join Senegal, Nigeria and Tunisia in the final four.
While Belmadi believes his side are at a slight disadvantage owing to the Lions of Teranga and the Super Eagles having more rest [both played on Wednesday], the Algeria coach also lauded his side’s achievements at the showpiece.
“The recuperation will be difficult, but how else could you manage the Africa Cup of Nations?
“Senegal and Nigeria [have had an extra day to prepare] are already in the semi-final. If Tunisia goes through it will be three teams who went to the World Cup, plus us.
“My ambition is to make Algeria among the biggest teams in Africa, so to have three World Cup teams, plus us, and that is a big achievement.”
Algeria are seeking their second Afcon crown, with the first triumph coming 29 years ago.
They will square up with Nigeria in the showpiece’s semi-final on Sunday, July 14 at the Cairo International Stadium.