The Desert Warriors and Indomitable Lions have been embroiled in an ugly World Cup qualifying drama since the Central Africans edged the North Africans to the ticket to Qatar
Nigerian legend Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha has expressed displeasure at the brouhaha created by the ongoing controversy following the World Cup playoff between Algeria and Cameroon.
The Indomitable Lions secured a dramatic Qatar 2022 ticket after eliminating the north Africans on away goals with a 2-1 win after extra time in Blida on Tuesday.
Algeria appeared the favourites to advance after claiming an excellent away win in Cameroon in the first leg.
But Cameroon roared back to life on Tuesday at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s 22nd-minute strike forcing the tie into extra-time.
RKC Waalwijk star Ahmed Touba equalised for the Dessert Warriors on the night and put them ahead on aggregate in the 118th-minute. But Cameroon forward Karl Toko Ekambi scored the winner in the 124th minute to send the Lions to a record eighth appearance at the Mundial.
However, the Algeria football federation (FAF) was dissatisfied with the result, especially regarding some refereeing decisions. An Algerian goal was chalked off for offside after the referee consulted the VAR.
And the FAF has requested that the second leg of their 2022 World Cup playoff against Cameroon be replayed.
But former Super Eagles playmaker Okocha has a different opinion. The ex-PSG star believes the encounter was free of any controversy and is not impressed with Algeria’s complains and demands.
And the retired footballer, who featured at the 1994, 1998, and 2002 World Cups, has lashed at Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi for criticising referee Bakary Papa Gassama of the Gambia, who handled the tie.
And Okocha has charged African qualifiers to brace up for worse refereeing calls during the tournament proper in November.
“A coach has no right to talk about the mistakes of a referee,” Okocha said in quotes obtained from I-Frii.
“There is a structure capable of seeing better than us and sanctioning. The VAR has challenged the referee, which means that there is a fault. What are we talking about here? Where is the referee’s error?
“We all watched that same game. We saw the offsides, the heads accompanied by the hands. Maradona called it the hand of God. Nowadays, the VAR is the laser that sanctions.
“Cameroon is qualified, that’s all! If we have to talk about refereeing errors, now is not the time. A country has just lost a match on the field; then suddenly, a coach comes to worsen the thing. Organize a symposium and debate on all the things that undermine African football. But not at the dawn of the competitions!
“The real mistakes made on purpose await you at the World Cup in Qatar; where will you file your complaints?”
FIFA is unlikely to accede to the demands of the Algerians, with Cameroon expected to join Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, and Afcon winners Senegal as Africa’s five representatives at the 2022 World Cup.