CAIRO – Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi says he is going to rely on his players’ "motivation and enthusiasm" as they face off against Senegal in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) at the Cairo International Stadium on Friday night (start at 9pm).
Belmadi was in a positive mood and said Algeria were "100 percent ready for the final."
"We not only want to win for ourselves but for our people in the stadium and back home. We want to make them happy. We will prepare for that match as we did for the previous ones. We are focused and I rely on my players’ motivation and enthusiasm.
"The group stage game was totally different as this is a decisive match. Both teams are on another psychological level.
"We are playing against the best African-ranked team in Senegal. They played in the previous World Cup, so they are the favourites to take the Afcon title. I haven’t spoken to Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse but we will talk after the game. It’s ironic that the two kids who grew up together are now facing each other in the final.
"We used to play together as young boys in Paris. Now we are coaches for our national teams. Fate brought us to this final."
Belmadi said that many changes happened between 2014 and 2019 in Algerian football.
"Some players were in the World Cup then but I think this Afcon is much different. Now we have the best attack and second-best defence. But it’s not for me to say if we deserve the title or not, the results will tell us that.
"I am asking our supporters to celebrate in a responsible way. We must have respect for the country we are in.
Meanwhile midfielder Adlene Guediora said: "The coach knows well what he wants and what he needs from the players and credit to him. If you don’t have a great cook, you won’t have great food.
"We are a united team and that’s very important for Algeria. We used to have good individuals but now we are also complete as a team. I have no memories about the 1990 title as I was very young. But now I have the chance to write history myself.
"We did very well in the 2014 World Cup but there were some hard times. But we worked hard to get back here in Egypt and now we have to finish off the job by winning the Afcon trophy," he added.
African News Agency (ANA)