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Football

Algeria, Nigeria clash for a place in the AFCON 2019 final

Algeria have won only one AFCON title in history. (PHOTOS/ Courtesy)

AFCON 2019
Algeria vs Nigeria
Cairo International Stadium, Cairo
Sunday, 14-07-2019 @10pm

Two African heavyweights will clash at the Cairo International Stadium as Algeria and Nigeria hope to reach the AFCON 2019 final.

Both sides have so far produced assured performances en route to the last four.

After finishing top of their group with maximum points, Algeria defeated Guinea 3-0 in the second round before overcoming Ivory Coast in penalties in the last 8.

Algeria have not won an AFON title in 29 years since claiming their first and only triumph in 1990.

They know they are two fames away from making history but respect how difficult winning it will be.

“The one that we won was in 1990, a long time ago when it was at home. We’ve never won since. This is away from home, it’s more difficult, of course,” Algeria head coach Djemal Belmadi said on Saturday.

“This is our target, we want to write our history and the players want to write their history as well.

“It’s not far — two more steps, but two very difficult steps to this great achievement. We will try our best.”

For Nigeria, they are three time champions of Africa with the latest coming in 2013.

The have endured two tough knockout games to reach here.

At the round of 16, they came from behind to eliminate 2017 winners Cameroon 3-2 before scoring a late winner to overcome South Africa in the last round.

Nigeria have already eliminated bot Cameroon and South Africa.

Having won more titles and gone through what looks like a tougher route, Nigeria will go into the game with a feel good factor but can not take Algeria for granted.

Nigeria’s head coach Gernot Rohr praised his counterpart in his press-briefing on Saturday.

He’s done a very professional job,” Rohr said of Belmadi.

“They were shaky at the time (World Cup qualifiers 2018). We beat them 3-1 and they made lots of individual errors and defensive mistakes that made it easier for us to win. They were also fragile in the draw.

“Now I see a solid Algeria side with a good balance between attack and defence. They’re still physical, but they have come on since and it will be a much harder match than in World Cup qualifying.”

Team news

Nigeria’s captain John Mikel Obi is expected to make a return to the side’s starting XI after missing two games due to an injury sustained against Madagascar. The midfielder told reporters ahead of Nigeria’s clash with South Africa that he was certain of recovering in time for the semi-final in Cairo. Shehu Abdullahi having suffered a hamstring injury during a group game against Burundi, is expected to make a return to fitness as well.

Algeria boss Belmadi will be delighted to have no major injury concerns for his side ahead of the meeting with Nigeria, and looks set to field the usual midfield four of Riyad Mahrez, Ismael Bennacer, Sofien Feghouli and Youcef Belaili to provide support for lone striker Bounedjah. Guedioura, such a crucial aspect of this team, is one booking away from a suspension.

Match Stats

Nigeria’s predominance over Algeria in past competitive fixtures is emphatic, with the Super Eagles winning seven of the last nine between the two sides.

That said, the Desert Foxes emerged victorious during their last meeting with Nigeria – a rare 3-0 win in World Cup qualifiers back in November 2017, which ended a 27-year winless streak against the West African side.

Their most recent meeting in the Africa Cup of Nations came during a third-place playoff in 2010, which Nigeria won 1-0.

The other semifinal

-Senegal vs Tunisia @7pm

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