- Africa’s prime group units new report for video games unbeaten
- Algeria shine, Morocco with work to do, Tunisia searching for dynamism
- Aforementioned trio getting ready for Qatar 2022 qualifiers and the FIFA Arab Cup
The second half of 2021 guarantees to be a busy one for many groups from the Arab world, with the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ in Asia and Africa, in addition to the inaugural version of the FIFA Arab Cup to be held in Qatar on the finish of the 12 months.
Indeed, with a qualifying spherical for this new event happening within the coming days, and AFC groups engaged in Qatar 2022 qualifying, a number of Arab groups with out both of these obligations took benefit of the worldwide window to play friendlies. This was the case for the likes of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, who all had helpful lessons forward of their forthcoming challenges.
A report and confidence increase for Les Fennecs
Undefeated since November 2018, present CAF Africa Cup of Nations champions Algeria appear properly geared up for the challenges forward.
But coach Djamel Belmadi just isn’t one to relaxation on his laurels and impressed on his squad the significance of their video games towards Mauritania, Mali and Tunisia. “These friendlies are far from being insignificant for me, since they’ll be decisive for the next FIFA Ranking. Our goal is to maintain our position among the continent’s top five, so as to have home advantage for the return leg of a potential [third round] play-off for the 2022 World Cup,” he introduced.
Mission achieved so for Belmadi’s costs, who strung collectively three straight wins: 4-1 towards Mauritania, 1-0 towards Mali, and – most importantly – 2-0 in Tunisia. The sequence additionally enabled Algeria to set a brand new report (27) for video games unbeaten by an African group, surpassing that of Côte d’Ivoire (26). Better nonetheless, victory within the Maghreb derby, allowed Les Fennecs to maneuver forward of their neighbours of their head-to-head, with a sixteenth victory in 44 conferences in comparison with 15 for Tunisia and 13 attracts.
“This unbeaten run means a lot, principally because it shows how consistent we’ve been since being crowned African champions in 2019 and how we got right back to work on delivering big performances. The credit must go to the players, who’ve worked hard to beat this record,” mentioned their coach after the victory in Rades. “Of course, it won’t be easy to keep the run going, especially as everyone is waiting to take us down.”
The three video games additionally allowed Belmadi to experiment together with his squad, giving alternatives to central defenders Ahmed Touba and Abdelkader Bedrane, who confirmed that they might fill in for regulars Djamel Benlamri and Aissa Mandi. Ramiz Zerrouki and Haris Belkebla additionally impressed, whereas Riyad Mahrez confirmed as soon as once more how essential his ability and expertise are in huge moments. The Manchester City striker, absent towards Mauritania, grabbed the one purpose of the sport towards Mali, and his facet’s second towards Tunisia after Baghdad Bounedjah opened the scoring.
Carthage Eagles nonetheless hopeful regardless of setback
For their half, Tunisia confirmed their standing as a power in African and Arab soccer with two wins – over Congo DR (1-0) and Mali (1-0) – from their three friendlies, cementing their place because the second-finest African group within the FIFA Ranking. Without influential midfielders Youssef Msakni and Ferjani Sassi, the group struggled an excellent deal within the face of Algeria’s urgent and dynamism, unsurprisingly happening regardless of a dedicated and tenacious response within the second half.
And whereas this power of character was not sufficient to show round a Maghreb derby, it did assist Mondher Kebaier’s males overcome Congo DR a number of days earlier, because of a solitary purpose from Naim Sliti on the stroke of half time, and to do the identical towards Mali yesterday courtesy of an Anis Ben Slimane strike on 90 minutes.
Among the positives to take from these fixtures is the stable begin in a Tunisia shirt for Manchester United ahead Hannibal Mejbri. The 18-12 months-previous supplies an extra attacking choice for a group who’ve been missing a bit in that division regardless of one of the best efforts of Wahbi Khazri.
Atlas Lions efficient if unspectacular
Last however not least, Morocco had solely two matches throughout the worldwide window, however each have been robust opponents. Against Ghana (1-0) and then Burkina Faso (1-0), Vahid Halilhodzic’s males did what was required with two wins with out dazzling notably.
The Atlas Lions have been grateful to a few of their main lights, particularly a composed and reliable Yacine Bounou in purpose, and influential attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech, who lit up proceedings after approaching towards the Black Stars and arrange the winner for Jawad El Yamiq. Also decisive was Ashraf Hakimi, who scored the one purpose of the match towards the Stallions with a free-kick.
The group’s Bosnian coach could have been please to see two stable performances from his facet regardless of many modifications, with solely Adel Taarabt, Romain Saiss, Hakimi and Youssef En-Nesyri making the beginning XI for each fixtures. “Between now and September, we have to become much more efficient and determined for our qualifying games,” warned the coach after their second match, regardless of the 2 victories.