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Afcon 2019: We are ready to challenge Nigeria - Algeria's Mehdi Abeid

Afcon 2019: We are ready to challenge Nigeria - Algeria's Mehdi Abeid

An injury to Youcef Atal, who fractured his collarbone during the quarter-final win over Ivory Coast on penalties, forced Djamel Belmadi to start Mehdi Zeffane at right-back, while Nigeria fielded the same team that overcame South Africa here.

But Nigeria scored the equalizer in the 72nd minute of this game as Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo successfully converted a penalty. Born in France, he declared instead for Algeria, the land of his parents, in time to play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

In a video that has gone viral on social media, Algerian star Ramy Bensebaini was seen slapping himself in the face with Wilfried Zaha's hand, before falling to the floor clutching his head, during the quarterfinal tie between Algeria and Ivory Coast on Thursday. They are tactically so disciplined, well-drilled and organised.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr was quick to label Algeria the favourites despite being put to task for saying that a team that beats a favourite then becomes the favourite. They seem to really enjoy his style of management. Now, to stay in the race for the Ballon D'or, he has to win the Africa Cup of Nations. The overreliance on Yacine Brahimi and Riyad Mahrez has dwindled.

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Hesitant defending from Kenneth Omeruo just outside his own area then allowed Bounedjah to nip in, but the Al-Sadd striker could only shoot tamely at Daniel Akpeyi. But the fact remains that both sides made underwhelming starts to Egypt 2019.

"Algeria are a balanced team defensively and offensively". "We are the lowest ranked of the four teams in the semi-finals".

One thing to watch out for: yellow cards are still being totted up in the knockout stages, with a suspension from the next match for anyone who gets a second.

If Senegal made an erratic start to the competition, then Tunisia were guilty of making a very poor one, only scraping past the group stage with three draws against Angola, Mali and Mauritania. Among those walking that tightrope are Youssef Msakni and Sadio Mane.