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AFCON: Algerians beat Super Eagles , go into final; Nigerian fans heartbroken 

Super Eagles

Cairo, July 14, 2019

A last-gasp goal from Riyad Mahrez helped Algeria qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final match after defeating Nigeria 2-1 at Cairo International Stadium on Sunday night.

They will face their group opponents Senegal in the final match on Friday at the same venue.

Mahrez cross led to William Troost-Ekong putting the ball into his own net after 40 minutes, before VAR gave Nigeria a penalty kick which Odion Ighalo scores in the 70th minute.

But Mahrez scored a superb free-kick to hand Les Fennecs a place in the final four minutes into stoppage time.

Possession swung between both sides in the opening minutes, with the players looking to be cautious.

The game’s first real chance came at the quarter hour mark from a free-kick which Bennacer sent to Rami Bensabaini, but the defender’s header went just wide.

With possession going towards Les Fennecs side, Baghdad Bounedjah was almost giving Algeria the lead after 29 minutes.

Youcef Belaili pass found the striker who rounded his marker, but his shot went straight into the hands of Nigeria’s goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi.

The first real chance for the Super Eagles came after 38 minutes when Alex Iwobi found Odion Ighalo, but the striker’s shot went wide.

Les Fennecs broke the deadlock five minutes from the break.

Riyad Mahrez sent a calling cross that was deflected from Nigeria’s defender William Troost-Ekong to his own net giving Algeria a deserved lead into the half-time.

Nigeria started the second half on attacking note trying to find the equaliser, but found a resolute Algerian defence that stopped all their attempts.

Alex Iwobi tried from distance on the hour mark but missed the target widely.

Algeria tried depending on the counter attack, but could not make a difference.

And, after 70 minutes, the game took a turnaround.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) intervened to give Nigeria a penalty kick for a handball on Aissa Mandi.

Ighalo made no mistake from the penalty kick spot to tie the game at 1-1.

Algeria players looked fatigued and tried to keep their opponents at bay, relying on Mahrez and Belaili’s speed in counter-attacks.

Ismail Bennacer could have given Algeria the lead two minutes into stoppage time but his shot kissed the crossbar.

And it was Mahrez who won the match for Les Fennecs four minutes after the full-time mark when his free-kick was perfectly placed over the wall and into the net.

It led Les Fennecs to the final for the second time in their history and the first since 1990.

Meanwhile, fans and football lovers across Nigeria and beyond, especially those in Osun state have been heartbroken after Algeria edged out Nigeria for a final place at the ongoing AFCON.

A cross section of the fans that spoke to NAN in Osogbo after the match on Sunday, said Nigeria had a good run but it was heartbreaking loosing in the tournament the way Nigeria did to Algeria.

Femi Ogundele, a fan, said Nigeria would have been hopeful if the match extended to the extra times of the match, but Algeria scoring a free kick in the added time was very painful.

“When a penalty was awarded in the 73rd minute, and we equalized, it gave us hope that Nigeria could still win the game, that in the worst case, we will play extra time.

” But it was very devastating that it was just few seconds to the end of the added time that Nigeria conceded a goal to Algeria.

“I am so sad right now, thank God I have eaten dinner before the match, because I don’t know how I would have been able to eat again after what just happened, so sad,” he said

Babatunde Ganiyu, a football analyst, in his own comment said Nigeria was just unlucky, coupled with the fact that Algeria played better than the Super Eagles.

“Super Eagles played fantastic football but the Algerians dominated them towards the last minute and they were lucky to get the goal.

“In the first half, Nigeria’s defense was not tightly coordinated, though the midfield tried their best in terms of marking but they failed to deliver good passes that could be converted to goal by the strikers.

” Our attacking force was not tight at all, you could imagine the Algerian goalkeeper in their goal post without any pressure throughout the first half.

“It is so sad we didn’t make it to the final of the tournament, though we had a great run , I guess a consolation will be a third place.” he said

Ayoola Ajayi, in his own assessment of the game said Nigeria lacked good goalkeeper and that contributed to the loss.

“I was just telling my friend that I worry about Akpeyi and the last-minute conceding syndrome.

“I kept talking about Akpeyi, no one will listen to me; I have been following football for decades and I know Akpeyi cannot even be Nigeria’s 30th keeper.

“We went to Egypt with an unstable keeper; but the goal keeper should not only carry the blame, everybody in the team should share in the blame, the players, the coach, the technical crew, even NFF.

“Algeria dominated the game and their dominance and force led to their well deserved victory.

“How I wish Vincent Enyeama was in goal.., I know he would not concede such a heartbreaking goal,” he said.

About Global Patriot Staff

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