Algeria boss urges players to be ready for Guinea threat
Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi continued his low key approach as his side prepared for their last 16 clash with Guinea at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo. “We may have won three games in the group stages,” said the 43-year-old. “But there's another competition underway now in which you cannot afford to slip up.”
Algeria, seeking a first Cup of Nations title since 1990, scored six goals in their three matches and their rearguard went unbreached in the victories over Kenya, Senegal and Tanzania.
In the final pool match against the east Africans, Belmadi made several changes to the side and was rewarded with statements of intent including as a brace from Adam Ounas in the 3-0 success.
Belmadi, who has been at the helm of Algeria since last August, was anointed coach of the group phase and star midfielder Riyad Mahrez was in the team of the pool stages.
Such star billing has made the north Africans overwhelming favourites to sweep past a Guinea side shorn of key midfielder Naby Keita.
The 24-year-old was struck down by the same left thigh injury that cut short his Premier League season with Liverpool.
He has returned to England from Egypt. "He is set to be ready to start pre-season training as planned following an end-of-season break later in July,” a statement from Liverpool said.
Despite Keita's absence, Belmadi said he would maintain the focus and intensity within the squad following the respective defeats of Morocco and Egypt to less fancied sides Benin and South Africa.
"We didn' t really need those results to tell us to be on our guard. But they do show us what this competition is about. We know what's waiting for us."