CAN 2023/Algeria-Niger: National team doors open to all players

The coach of the Algerian football team, Djamel Belmadi, said on Sunday in Algiers that “the doors for the national team are open to all players,” as Algeria national team of football prepares for a double confrontation against Niger, on March 23 and 27, for the 3rd and 4th rounds of the qualifications for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations CAN (postponed to 2024) in Ivory Coast.

“It is so difficult to find balance in the automatisms of a national team. The selection doors have always been open, provided that these players adhere to our philosophy. There are players who arrive and others who leave. This is a very well-known process for all national coaches,” said Belmadi during a press conference held at the Sidi Moussa National Technical Center (Algiers).

Regarding the call-up, for the first time, of several players most of whom play abroad, such as Kevin Guitoun (SC Bastia/FRA), Rayan Ait Nouri (Wolverhampton/ANG), Jaouen Hadjam (FC Nantes/FRA), Badredine Bouanani (OGC Nice/FRA), and Fares Chaibi (Toulouse FC/FRA), the national coach said he was “very enthusiastic about working with these young players.”

“It was a long process that lasted almost four years for Ait Nouri and Aouar, but for the others, things happened very quickly. I chose to opt for discussion and discretion in negotiations, and today we can see the result very well,” Belmadi said.

He added, “These players deserve our utmost respect because simply, some of them refused the call-up to the French youth team and responded favorably to the call of the nation. This is something that touches me deeply.”

In addition to the five new players playing abroad, the list of 25 is marked by the recall of Andy Delort (FC Nantes/FRA) and Abdelkahar Kadri (KV Courtrai/BEL) who return to the group after a long absence.

Only one local player, USM Alger defender Zineddine Belaid, appears on the national coach’s new list.

On the other hand, goalkeeper Rais M’bolhi, defender Youcef Atal, forwards Said Benrahma, Billal Brahimi, and Adam Ounas are not involved in the double confrontation against Niger.

Algeria will host Niger on Thursday, March 23, at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki (10:00 PM). This match will be officiated by a Sudanese quartet led by Mahmood Ali Mahmood Ismail, and composed of Mohammed Abdallah Ibrahim (1st assistant), Omer Hamid Mohamed Ahmed (2nd assistant), while the fourth referee is Elsiddig Mohamed El Treefe.

Niger, whose General Seyni-Kountché stadium in Niamey has not been homologated by the African Confederation (CAF), has chosen the Hamadi-Agrebi stadium in Radès, Tunisia, to host the “Greens” on Monday, March 27 (5:00 PM).

Winners in June 2022 of the first two matches: at home against Uganda (2-0) and away against Tanzania (2-0), Algeria occupies the top spot in Group F with 6 points, ahead of Niger (2 points), while Tanzania and Uganda follow with one point each.

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