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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Algeria must salute the performance of Sierra Leone - Belmadi

20:28 GMT+3 11/01/2022
Djamel Belmadi - Algeria coach
Leone Stars defied the odds to share the spoils with defending champions, the Desert Foxes

Algeria head coach Djamel Belmadi has lauded the inspired performance by Sierra Leone in the 0-0 draw registered in Group E of the Africa Cup of Nations played at Omnisport Stadium in Douala.

The defending champions had come into the match as favourites, but ended up struggling to score against the well-organised Leone Stars who were making a return to the competition after 26 years.

The tactician, understandably, concedes the objective was not met, but also hinted change in climate might have affected his team.

"I can’t say that I’m satisfied, the objective being to enter the competition well with the maximum number of points, but it wasn’t possible," Belmadi said as quoted by Caf Online.

"But it's not just the conditions, the heat, and humidity. We had a brave opponent in front who left little room. And as the game went on, he had more motivation and reduced the spaces. In the second half, it is true that we had a lot more chances but we must also salute the performance of the opponent.

"And as I said, this Afcon, it will be difficult for everyone."

His counterpart from Sierra Leone John Keister went on to state they have to fight in the group but insisted they will take it one game at a time.

"I'm happy with the result even though we attacked this game to win it," the 51-year-old said.

"We had the reigning African champions Algeria, a great and beautiful team, but we stuck to our strategy which worked. I don't want to highlight a single player even if the goalkeeper [Mohamed N Kamara] was elected man of the match. This is a collective performance and we will continue to do so.

"We have to fight and grow this group. And since our arrival, we have been working to move forward. There's no point in having a great game today [Tuesday] and letting the other games slip away, it's at the end of the tournament that we'll know if we're the surprise. We take it game after game."

Another test for the Leone Stars in Group E will be on Sunday against Ivory Coast.