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Preview: Ivory Coast vs. Algeria

Algeria’s first elimination game at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations arrives a bit earlier than the defending champions anticipated as they get set to clash with Ivory Coast on Thursday in Group E play at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. With only one point from their opening two games against Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone, only a win will be good enough for the Fennecs to reach the Round of 16. Ivory Coast are currently top of the group with their ticket to the knockout stages secured, but defeat will drop their position to make for a more difficult elimination match.

It has been an awful AFCON for Algeria so far and now they will need to come out with the full three points against the Elephants. Manager Djamel Belmadi expressed his disappointment in the general performance of his team but specified that a lack of finishing was what concerned him the most. Multiple clear opportunities were missed by the Fennecs that prevented them from victory against Sierra Leone in the opener and Belmadi said that the team was unrecognizable in their shock defeat to Equatorial Guinea.

On the injury front, Algeria will not have defensive leader Djamel Benlamri available due to a muscle injury but have Adam Ounas and Ramiz Zerrouki back in training after they missed out against Equatorial Guinea. Other than Benlamri, Belmadi should have a full squad to call upon.

Ivory Coast have not exactly been at their best either and finishing is also a concern for the team’s manger Patrice Beaumelle. Both teams expected to cruise through Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea with relative ease, but the Elephants struggled to put away both teams and paid dearly against Sierra Leone by conceding a late equalizer. Beaumelle cited a statistic that his team were only able to finish two goals from eighteen chances against the Leone Stars while also stressing that the stamina and freshness of players could be a factor in an athletic matchup.

Manchester United center back Eric Bailly and forward Wilfried Zaha are questionable for the match due to injury but should be available to play some sort of role. Beaumelle addressed the issue of goalkeeper Ali Badra Sangaré, whose unfortunate error against Sierra Leone was compounded by the death of his father soon after the match. The manager stated that Sangaré was doing well and that the team was there to comfort him and offer support through his difficult time.

Links from Ivorian, Algerian and international media are below.

Côte d’Ivoire v Algeria – Do or Die (CAF Online)
Mahrez wants Algeria to do their talking on the pitch (SuperSport)
ALG – CIV : Belmadi « On manque d’efficacité » (DZ Foot)

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