Algerians need to make up for their humiliating goalless encounter with a surprisingly strong Malawi (3-0). But Mali has the necessary arsenal to thwart the plans of an anxious Algerian team.
This time, Algeria will have no excuse to lose. The Fennecs must win or suffer the pain of having to say goodbye to their dreams of ever going to the final in this 2010 African Cup of Nations.
Humiliated in their very first match against Malawi (3-0), Algeria has no choice but to deliver a win on Thursday against Mali, in the scheduled match between the two disappointing favorites of Group A.
"There’s pressure, it’s true,” said Hassan Yebda after training. “But this only encourages us." Unfortunately, Yebda’s words are doubtful when we forecast the outcome of this decisive encounter.
According to news from Luanda, the atmosphere is not that rosy in the Fennec camp. Wednesday, the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) announced on its website that Khaled Lemmouchia had returned to the country, "for family reasons".
The reality on the ground, however, is quite different. In fact, a discord between the player and the Algerian national coach, Rabah Saadane, had become all too stifling. The ES Setif midfielder could not stand his having been kept on the bench.
Worse of all, the two Algerian goal keepers; Mohamed Fawzi and Chaouchi Ousserir, are at loggerheads and since Tuesday afternoon and have refused to address each other.
The story is that; Chaouchi, who replaced former goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui, did not appreciate an advice from his more experienced teammate. The heated verbal exchange was continued to the hotel where it took the intervention of powerful leaders to prevent a clash ...
And to end a rather spectacular story, at least for the Malians, is the fact that two strategic Algerian players; defender Antar Yahia and midfielder Mourad Meghni, can’t play in at least two matches.
In short, Algeria, which has already exhausted its joker in the group A, has every reason to be anxious.
The situation is no better among the Malians.
The Eagles, one of the top teams from the continent, showed very worrying defensive lapses in the opening match of the competition. Misleading or salutary, their epic showdown will forever remain in our memories.
"I do not know why we showed two sides. When we were losing 3-0, we were psychologically affected," said Seydou Keita who scored twice.
Not having qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Eagles will fight with their hearts and souls on Thursday so as not to not suffer a premature removal from the CAN, their major competition for the year 2010.