Reigning African champions Algeria will face Nigeria for the fourth time in as many years on Friday. Unlike the previous three meetings though, this is not a competitive affair as both teams square up in an Austrian rendezvous to maximise the first international window for African teams in 2020. www.aclsports.com previews the game.
Such is the effect of the global pandemic, Coronavirus on football across the world that African countries are just getting to converge, eleven months after they last did during qualification for the next AFCON tournament last November.
It is therefore befitting that the flagship game of this round of international friendlies is one between two teams that have quite some things in common. Both nations are the “Gerians” of the continent, their national flags are dominated by Green and white while a concealed rivalry is going on among both countries; Nigeria qualified for the last World Cup by outclassing Algeria in their qualification group while Algeria took a worthy pound of flesh by defeating Nigeria at the semi-final stage of their AFCON conquest last year.
Friday’s game is a friendly encounter in which head coaches of both teams; Gernot Rohr and Djamel Belmadi (for Nigeria and Algeria respectively) will look to field and blood some new faces into what is shaping up to be formidable squads made up of quality personnel.
The dramatic finale to July 2019’s meeting between both sides is still very fresh in the minds of their fans and Friday’s meeting will seek to further reignite such memories and rekindle this growing rivalry among two nations that have five Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles among them.
Both the Super Eagles and Fennecs have maximum six points from two qualification games for the 2022 AFCON and Friday’s game will be considered as a worthy preparation ahead of their next qualifying fixtures in November since both teams face weaker sides on paper; Nigeria face Sierra Leone while Algeria meet Zimbabwe in their 3rd and 4th fixtures.
VENUE: The 30,000 capacity Wörthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt, Austria
TIME: 7:30pm Nigerian time (8:30pm in Austria)
MATCH OFFICIALS: Manuel SCHUTTENGRUBER from Austria is the centre referee and will be assisted by Roland BRANDNER (1st assistant) and Ms Sara TELEK (2nd assistant).
FANS: NIL (Game will be played behind closed doors due to Coronavirus restrictions).
TV: SS 204
WHAT THEY SAY:
Nigerian coach Gernot Rohr on Algeria:
“We know this Algerian team very well, they are unbeaten since eighteen games now and of course they want to continue but we will like to stop it but we know it will not be easy.
“They made a lot of progress since we met them in Uyo, it’s not the same team anymore. There are still some players, the goalkeeper, Mahrez and the other ones. I think they are progressing well and I think they are Number 1 in Africa now even if they are only Number 4 in the ranking but for me they are the strongest team for me.
“It will be a very very big test for us. The second game in Constantine, we played a draw and we dominated them. But we have a lot of respect for them but we don’t play for the result. When you play against strong teams, you will improve. That’s what we are hoping to achieve, the result is not the most important,” Rohr told ACLSports
Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi on the games against Nigeria and Mexico:
“Nigeria, as everyone knows, is the 2nd best team in the FIFA/CAF rankings. Mexico is a team running at top speed. They haven’t lost in 20 games. They have a lot of players, they are able to make two or three lists.
“I was looking for games that could put us in difficulty. Some might say we have to resume slowly. But I don’t see things that way. We have to take advantage of the FIFA dates, there are not better. I chose difficult games because I believe that the progression of a team goes through this. We could have opted very quickly against smaller teams. But I had the requirement to get these two prestigious matches against Nigeria and Mexico.”
MATCH DAY SQUADS:
Goalkeepers: Dele Alampasu (FK Ventspils, Latvia); Matthew Yakubu (SKF Sered, Slovakia); Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
Defenders: Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Leon Balogun (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Boavista, Portugal); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Olaoluwa Aina (Fulham FC, England); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England); Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal)
Midfielders: Mikel Agu (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Twente, Netherlands); Frank Onyeka (FC Midtjylland, Denmark); Samson Tijani (TSV Hartberg, Austria)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr, Saudi Arabia); Alex Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Cyril Dessers (KRC Genk, Belgium); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Chidera Ejuke (CSKA Moscow, Russia)
INJURED: Wilfred Ndidi, Joe Aribo, Victor Osimhen (Covid restriction).
Goalkeepers: Raïs M’bolhi (Ettifaq, Saudi Arabia), Izzedine Doukha (Al-Raed, Saudi Arabia), Alexandre Oukidja (FC Metz, France)
Defenders: Mohamed Salim Fares (Lazio, Italy), Aïssa Mandi (Real Betis, Spain), Ramy Bensebaïni (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany), Jean Mehdi Tahrat (Abha, Saudi Arabia), Mohamed Reda Halaïmia (K. Beerschot VA, Belgium), Mehdi Zeffane (Kylia Sovetov Samara, Russia), Abdeljalil Medioub (CD Tondela, Portugal), Maxime Spano-Rahou (Valenciennes, France)
Midfielders: Adlène Guedioura (Al-Gharafa, Qatar), Ismael Bennacer (AC Milan, Italy), Mehdi Abeïd (Nantes, France), Mehdi Zerkane (Girondins de Bordeaux, France), Sofiane Feghouli (Galatasaray, Turkey), Haris Belkebla (Stade Brestois, France)
Forwards: Baghdad Bounedjah (Al Sadd, Qatar), Farid Boulaya (Metz, France), Ryad Mahrez (Manchester City, England), Yacine Brahimi (Al-Rayyan, Qatar), Saïd Benrahma (Brentford, England), Zinedine Ferhat (Nîmes Olympique, France), Andy Delort (Montpellier HSC, France)
INJURED: Zinedine Ferhat, Mehdi Zeffane