If popularity were to win football matches there will be no need for the Desert Foxes of Algeria and the Syli Nationale of Guinea to meet in the round of 16 of the Cup of Nations on Sunday at 8pm for the Algerians have been to the world cup for some time while Guinea has never been there. Algeria has been at the Cup of Nations final 18 times whereas Guinea is on 12th appearances. But Guinea is rated 68 in the world and 11th in Africa while Algeria is rated 70 and 12th in Africa.
The Algerians won the Cup of Nations in 1990; Runners-up in 1980 in Lagos where Nigeria banged them 3-0; Bronze in 1984 and 1988; Semifinalists in1982 and 2010 and quarterfinalists 4 times – 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2015. The best of Guinea was runners-up in 1976. The rest were four quarterfinal achievements 2004, 2006, 2008 and 20015. Both Algeria and Guinea were knocked out at the same stage in their last appearances at the Cup of Nations.
Algeria won all their 3 matches in Egypt scoring 6 goals and having a clean sheet meaning not conceding any goal. Guinea completed the metamorphosis winning one, drawing one and losing one placing 3rd in Nigeria’s group B when Algeria topped their group with maximum 9 points. Algeria stoned Kenya 3-0; piped Senegal 1-0 and sentenced Tanzania 3-0. Guinea played 2-2 with Madagascar; lost 0-1 to Nigeria and beat the Swallows of Burundi 2-0 where Mohammed Yattara scored a brace (two goals in a match).
Unfortunately Guinean star player, Naiby Keita will not feature in the match against Algeria for injury holds him, but Guinea has Ibrahima Traore and Mohammed Yattara as attackers to rely on. There is no suspension or injury concern for Algeria.
Algerians are very crafty players good at delaying games and registering protests in manners that will irritate refs. They love to treat or attend to their supposedly injured players on the field and when refs insist they should be taken out according to the rules, they want to be back immediately. Algerian team is a very deceitful lot.
Algeria has the highest record of fouls among the 24 teams at the group stage, 72 to Guinea’s 45; 4-3 yellow cards and were offside 8-4 times. Guinea should be ready for rough play and should watch their offside traps. Stats show that Guinea has 177 – 159 ball possessions more reasons Algeria will come for their legs. But if they can control the game, they will be the second West African team to send a North African team home. Benin shocked Morocco; Algeria loves to shoot from anywhere and not so brilliant at set pieces.
Algeria scored 6 goals in three matches with a clean slate (not conceding a goal at all). Guinea will surely cancel that clean slate.
- ENIOLA OLATUNJI.