Nigeria will on Sunday meet Algeria in the semifinal of the Africa Cup of Nations. The Desert Foxes have arguably been the best team in this competition so far. Le Fennecs have beaten the likes of Senegal and Ivory Coast while playing a brand of eye-pleasing, attacking football.
They are the highest-scoring team in the competition and have only conceded just a goal so far which shows they are a well-drilled team. For that reason, Soccernet x-rays the key players in the Desert Foxes team who may cause the Super Eagles problems.
The Empoli lad came to the Africa Cup of Nations with the reputation of being one of Serie A’s accomplished dribblers. The former Arsenal trainee has justified such accolades, bagging two assists already and running rings around opponents.
So matured on the ball, the youngster has been one of the stars of the AFCON.
Adi Rais M’Bolhi
By far my favourite picture of this whole CAN. FLEX ON EM MBOLHI. FLEX ON EM!!!! pic.twitter.com/g3pV6tjaAM
— Walid Brahim (@walywalid13) July 11, 2019
The 33-year-old goalkeeper may be plying his trade in the sidewalks of the Saudi Arabian league but he has been world-class at this tournament. He is one of the chief reasons Algeria did not concede any goal in their first four games. And in the game against Ivory Coast when he finally let in a goal, he was outstanding, making four crucial saves in the first half alone.
That string of saves included superbly tipping a fierce Gradel drive on to the post. Then in the penalties, he came through yet again, saving from Wilfried Bony to send the Desert Foxes into the semifinal.
GOAAAAL ADAM OUNAS ! Just minutes after coming in, he it set up with a wonderful pass by Youcef Atal from the right wing and Ounas scores his 3rd goal at #AFCON2019 despite having played less than 80 minutes ! #lesVerts pic.twitter.com/GLC5xxNFeI
— Walid Bylka Videos (@bylka613_vids) July 7, 2019
The Napoli forward had never scored for Algeria until he landed in Egypt. Now, he has three goals to his name while mostly coming off the bench. No player at the AFCON has been more directly involved in goals (3 goals, 1 assist) than the ex-Bordeaux attacker.
The Super Eagles would be smart to be aware that Le Fennecs have a capable goal poacher waiting on the bench.
The Esperance striker is a wily old fox in the box. A two-time CAF Champions League winner and a 4-time Tunisia League champion, Belaili has proven time and again that he knows his way around the box.
He thrives under pressure, too. The forward it was who got the only goal in their top-of-the-group clash with Senegal, condemning the Teranga Lions to their only defeat of the AFCON so far.
The Algerian captain has had a fantastic tournament and is certainly a candidate for Player of the Tournament. On his day, his left foot is a beauty to watch. And he has been at the centre of everything delightful about this sweet, attacking Algerian side.
The Manchester City attacker is the most expensive African player ever and should he win Algeria their second-ever AFCON title – the first in 29 years – he may even be mentioned in the same breath as Rabah Madjer.