Riyad Mahrez fired a brilliant 89th minute freekick to hand Algeria a first Africa Cup of Nations Final slot in 29 years and the Manchester City midfielder has hailed the opportunity of being at a Cup of Nations final as unbelievable.
The last time Les Fennecs graced the grand stage of African football, he wasn’t even born. His coach, Djamel Belmadi was only 14 years old.
“We are so happy to be in the final because it is something unbelievable. It is a great feeling. It was a very tough game and it looked like it would go into extra time after they had the penalty from the VAR. But we got this freekick and I was determined to score,” Mahrez stated.
The midfielder already has two league title medals with Leicester City and now Manchester City in the just concluded season. Adding another winner’s medal around his neck, according to Mahrez will be a beautiful love story in his football journey.
Mahrez believes that Les Fennecs are in prime position to clinch the title and says the belief in the team has been doubled after their nerve wrecking win over Nigeria.
“We have been very good in this tournament. We have scored 12 goals and conceded only two but definitely this game has given us more confidence to play the final. We are capable of winning it,” stated the soft spoken Mahrez.
On facing Senegal in the final, Mahrez stated; “We played Senegal in the group stages and we know they are a very good team. It will be a tough final. Always even if it is another team finals are always tough. But for Senegal, we know their strengths and weaknesses and we will go to give them a good game.”
This will be the fifth AFCON meeting between these two sides. Interestingly, Algeria and Senegal played in the semi final when Les Fennecs won the title in 1990. The Algerians were 2-1 winners. They met in the group stages in 2015, Algeria winning 2-0 and met again in 2017 drawing 2-2.
For the third time in a row they were drawn in the same group in 2019, Algeria winning 1-0.