“Majid Bougherra Vows to Give 110% on the Field to Clinch the Trophy”
The coach of the Algerian A’ football team, Madjid Bougherra, stated on Friday in Algiers that his team was “ready to die on the field” to win the trophy at the 2022 African Nations Championship CHAN (postponed to 2023), in the final of the 7th edition, on Saturday against Senegal, at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki (8:30 pm).
“A final is not just about participating, it’s about winning. Only the champions are remembered in history. Our mindset is clear, we have no calculations to make, our sole focus is to win this Cup, giving it our all, ready to lay it all on the line for our country. We have achieved our first goal, which was set from the beginning of the tournament. We are just 90 minutes away from hoisting the trophy. Our team has recovered well and prepared thoroughly. Compared to the semi-final, this will be a different match against a strong and formidable opponent of Senegal,” Bougherra stated during a press conference held at the Baraki stadium.
The Algerian team secured its place in the final by crushing Niger (5-0) on Tuesday at the Miloud-Hadefi Stadium in Oran, while Senegal narrowly defeated Madagascar (1-0). Both teams are reaching the final of the tournament for the first time in their history.
“We have a thorough understanding of Senegal and are fully cognizant of our goals for the future. Our preparation has been ongoing for the past eighteen months. Football can be a cruel and harsh sport, with the outcome of a single match often determining success or failure. Despite hoping for a pivotal moment against Niger, we understand that a single game can be misleading. The outcome of this final will likely be determined by minor details, which is why the support of our fans will be of utmost importance. This match promises to be a festive celebration and a highly anticipated event,” he added.
“When asked about the atmosphere within the team, just a day away from the final, the former captain of the Algerian team was joyful. ‘The atmosphere is magnificent, the players are highly focused, they enjoy success and progress. We are eager to play this final to bring happiness to our families and supporters. From game to game, we have proven that we are a team that is on the rise. We are very pleased to be returning to Baraki, where we have our bearings. Everything is set for us to play this final,'” he said.
“By scoring five goals against Niger, the much-criticized offensive sector of the ‘Verts’ team has come to life. Bougherra believes that the ‘players are now confident,'” he said.
“We have restored order after the semi-final match, there was some talk about the lack of efficiency. The players are now confident, they have shown that they are capable of scoring goals,” he said.
The national coach declined to compare this CHAN final to the 2019 African Cup of Nations (CAN) won by Algeria against Senegal (1-0) in Cairo, Egypt.
“We haven’t talked about it. These are two different worlds and two different times, we are in a different way of communicating with the players. Playing a final at home hasn’t happened since 1990. The players are determined to see this competition through to the end,” the coach added.
Returning from a one-match suspension due to his red card against Ivory Coast (1-0) in the quarterfinals, CR Belouizdad’s goalkeeper Alexis Guendouz is not sure if he will regain his starting spot. Bougherra has not yet made a choice between him and Farid Chaâl.
“The decision between Guendouz and Chaâl as the starting goalkeeper remains uncertain. Both goalkeepers have had a strong performance throughout the tournament, with Guendouz making a strong start and Chaâl delivering a solid performance even though he hasn’t faced many challenging situations in the match against Niger. It’s important to also note that Rahmani is a strong goalkeeper and remains a contender for the starting spot. The choice will be tough, but the national team is a unit, and every player must be happy for their teammate. The three goalkeepers have a solid camaraderie. The decision will be made today, and while I could have chosen only 23 players, I took 28, with only Loucif and Rahmani not having played.”
According to Bougherra, the key to success in such crucial encounters lies in the collective.
“We are more of a collective, even though we have two to three individuals who can alter the course of the match. I must stress that our strength lies in the collective, as is the case with Senegal. Too much emphasis on individuals is not good for a team, playing together is the key to success,” affirmed the Algerian national team coach.
On a personal level, Bougherra believes that the FIFA Arab Cup, won by Algeria in December 2021 in Qatar, will greatly serve him in view of this final.
“Participating in the Arab Cup of FIFA was of great benefit to me in terms of game management. Here in Algiers, it will be even better, as we will have the supporters by our side. The stadium will be full, the crowd will cheer us on and motivate us, it will be a significant advantage. The Saturday finale will be better than the one played in Qatar against Tunisia (2-0).”
Asked to give his opinion on his opponent of the day, the coach of the local team was full of praise for the ‘Lions of Teranga’, “a team that deserves to be in the final”.
“Senegal? We know them very well, there is no surprise for the two coaches. It will be a great final between two great football countries in Africa. Senegal are here, they deserve it, it will be a question of state of mind. We are ready, may the best team win.”
The statistics produced thus far by Ayoub Abdellaoui and his teammates have given Bougherra a sense of confidence and assurance on the eve of this final stage of the competition.
The players have achieved several records during this tournament: we have secured maximum points in the first round (9 out of 9), with no goals conceded thus far, and have the tournament’s top scorer (Mahious with 5 goals, note). If we win this final, we will be true champions. I hope that the semi-final match against Niger allowed the players to express themselves more freely.
The coach concluded by saying, “The players require that intensity in the game, that’s where they excel, that’s my assessment of the local player. I’m not worried at all. It won’t only be Senegal imposing that intensity, we’ll also bring it, which will make this final even more beautiful. We need to avoid losing unnecessary balls, as Senegal’s strength lies in their rapid transition play.”
“Now it is up to us to secure the trophy” – Pape Bouna Thiaw
The coach of the Senegalese A’ football team, Pape Bouna Thiaw said Friday in Algiers that his players were “ready and committed” to target the title on Saturday, on the occasion of the final of the African Nations Championship CHAN-2022 (postponed to 2023) against Algeria, at the Nelson-Mandela stadium in Baraki (20:30).
“We have been eager to play this final against an exceptional Algerian team that has displayed some beautiful play. Although we have young players, when the moment arises to accomplish something for our country, age is no barrier. The players have demonstrated their qualities and tomorrow, they will fight even harder to win the title,” stated the Senegalese coach during a pre-match press conference held at the Baraki stadium.
Senegal, marking its third appearance in the CHAN after a twelve-year absence, qualified for the final on Tuesday by narrowly defeating Madagascar (1-0) at the Nelson-Mandela Stadium, while Algeria easily thrashed Niger (5-0) in Oran.
“Both teams are determined to win the title. Senegal won’t go down easily, we’ve worked hard to get here, and the young players are ready to follow in the footsteps of their elder brothers (winners of the last CAN-2021 – postponed to 2022 – in Cameroon, note),” he added.
And to continue: “Winning a CHAN after a CAN would be magnificent; it’s an added motivation for the players. We want to make our local football proud, which is underrated. The Federation has provided resources for our national teams, Senegal represents our continent well.”
When asked about the Algerian team, which has been unbeaten throughout the tournament, the 42-year-old former Senegal international (16 caps/5 goals) sees himself as facing a “big team”.
“We are preparing for all scenarios. This Algerian team has its weaknesses, as well as its strengths. We will rely on their weaknesses to counteract them. Algeria is a big team that will have its fans behind it. The pressure will be on them rather than on us,” said Bouna Thiaw.
“Algeria rely much more on the team than on individuals. They are good at attacking and defending and at stopping balls. In a final, there are always calculations to be made. I have studied Algeria well and I hope that my players will be able to implement what we have worked on, even if it won’t be easy,” he continued.
On a personal level, the Dakar native refused to enter into a tactical battle with his Algerian counterpart Madjid Bougherra.
“It will not be a match between Bougherra and me, but between Senegal and Algeria. We are here for our country, we will do everything to win this trophy. On the field there will be no public, it will be eleven against eleven,” added the coach of the ‘Lions of Terranga’.
“The coach of the Senegalese football team, Pape Bouna Thiaw, was asked about the competition’s leading scorer, Aymen Mahious (5 goals). Thiaw stated that there will not be a special plan to silence Mahious, but rather a plan against the Algerian team as a whole. When asked about the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt, which was lost to Algeria (0-1), Thiaw rejected the idea of seeking revenge, stating that they have come to achieve their goal and they will have no feelings of retribution regarding Senegal’s defeat at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.”
Senegal is about to play its second match in Baraki, after having played its first four matches at the 19-May 1956 stadium in Annaba: “We are happy to be here. The public of Annaba has been very warm, thank you to Algeria,” replied Thiaw.
Defender of Teungueth FC El-Hadi Moutarou Baldé, who was present at this media conference, reported the determination and desire that drive his teammates on the eve of this final.
“We are determined and motivated for this final and are eager to win it at all costs. We will do everything in our power to achieve our goal. Despite facing a strong opposing team, we have assets that we will leverage. I anticipate a great showdown between two teams striving for the title. We are well-acquainted with Algeria. I want to extend my gratitude to the Algerian people for their warm reception,” he concluded.