Djamel Belmadi, coach of the Algerian national football team, praised the attitude of the players who chose to join the “Desert Warriors” battalion to play for the French national team, stressing that his goal is to win titles.
Belmadi said, in a press conference on Sunday, before facing Niger back and forth in the qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations scheduled for Côte d’Ivoire in early 2024: All the new players rejected the invitations of the French Olympic team, in order to meet Algeria’s call. This has not happened since the era of the players of the National Liberation Front (who fled their French clubs after the call of the leadership of the Algerian revolution).
He added: They came to the national team out of love for Algeria and the national colors. I feel a great responsibility towards these young players, after their decision to represent the Greens instead of France.
He continued: The first thing was to integrate into this national team, and the goals set. I am here to win titles and put the national team at the best level. I explained to them that age is nothing, whether it is a young player or an older player. Boudaoui played Alkan at the age of 19, and Slimani is currently 34 years old.
Belmadi explained that contacts with Hossam Aouar, player of the French club Lyon, and Rayan Ait Nouri, player of Wolverhampton, England, began 4 years ago, while things went faster with Joan Hajjam, Badr Eddine Bouanani, defender of Nantes, and the French striker Nice, respectively.
He also confirmed that the presence of Fares Chaibi, the French Toulouse player with the “Khidr”, is important, because he can play in more than one position, especially in attack.
And he highlighted that Aouar changed his sports nationality after he showed a great desire to play for the Algerian national team and his feeling that he could do the best, and that he would join the group when he was physically ready.
He noted that the two matches against Niger will allow new players to learn more about the African atmosphere and gradually integrate with the rest.
Belmadi commented on FIFA’s decision to increase the number of teams qualified for the World Cup finals, starting from the next edition, by saying: The years pass quickly, and qualifying for the World Cup in Africa is very difficult, as evidenced by the fact that we have played only 4 tournaments since the first tournament.
It is noteworthy that the Algerian national team will meet its counterpart Niger next Thursday at the “Nelson Mandela” stadium in the Algerian capital, in the third round of the Group H matches in the qualifiers, then the two teams will face on March 27 at the “Hammadi Al-Aqrabi” stadium in Brades in Tunisia for the fourth round.