AFCON 2023: Algeria’s quest for glory begins against underdog Angola


The stage is set in Bouaké for a tantalizing clash in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group D, where Algeria seeks redemption against an underdog Angolan squad.

The Greens, having experienced a surprising downfall in the last edition, despite their status as defending champions, are hungry for vindication.

With Djamel Belmadi still at the helm, Algeria enters this tournament with both the burden of past failures and the promise of a talented roster.

Belmadi’s squad has showcased formidable form leading up to AFCON, boasting an impressive W5, D1 record in qualification and maintaining an unbeaten streak.

This resilience was evident in their two substantial victories in November 2023 World Cup qualifiers and in recent friendlies. However, Belmadi, who astutely predicted the 2019 AFCON win, has cautiously downplayed expectations this time, pointing to the strength of teams like the Ivory Coast.

Despite this, the statistics lean heavily in Algeria’s favor. They’ve kept a clean sheet in the first half of their last eight games, reflecting a robust defense.

The spotlight shines on 35-year-old Islam Slimani, whose limited football action hasn’t dampened his scoring prowess, netting goals in three of his last four appearances for Algeria.

Contrastingly, Angola’s journey to AFCON paints a picture of struggle and inconsistency. Since their qualification, the team’s performance has been lackluster, managing only two wins in 11 games, including friendlies.

This slump is a far cry from their golden era between 2005 and 2010, and recent results against lower-ranked teams like Mauritius, Mozambique, and Madagascar raise questions about their readiness for a high-stakes tournament like AFCON.

Angola, however, might find a silver lining in Gelson Dala. The forward enters the tournament on a high, with goals in three of his last four games for Al-Wakra. His agility and attacking prowess could be pivotal in challenging Algeria’s defense.

The upcoming match is more than just a contest; it’s a narrative of resilience for Algeria and an opportunity for Angola to defy expectations.

Algeria, keen to erase the memories of their last AFCON debacle, will look to assert their dominance early on. Angola, the underdogs, must capitalize on every opportunity and hope for a defensive masterclass to upset the former champions.

As the excitement builds, fans anticipate a riveting encounter, where strategy, skill, and perhaps a touch of destiny will determine who emerges victorious in this AFCON Group D opener.

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