As the semi-finals of Africa’s most famous sports competition approached, a far-right French politician said he was rooting for Nigeria in their tie with Algeria, to “avoid the tide of Algerian flags” that would appear in Paris.
There are estimated to be close to 5 million French people of Algerian descent in the country, which includes the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri.
But the politician’s wish did not come true, as Riyad Mahrez struck home a 95th-minute free-kick to take Algeria through to their first final since 1990. It was an amazing goal and you could see how important it was to the country, with videos of fans celebrating in the streets circulating on social media. Mahrez struck back at the politician by saying “The free kick was for you. We are together. Football > hate.”
Algerian kids were reconstructing the goal and that green and white flag was taken to the streets across Algeria, France and around the world. Next was going to be another nail-biting match, the final in Cairo, against Senegal.
The final was off to a quick start with Algeria taking the lead within two minutes. Bounedjah’sheavily deflected shot rippled the back of the net it was time to celebrate again for the Algerians.
Senegal put the pressure on after the goal, but the game was scrappy. Senegal had a penalty ruled out by VAR in the second half, and there was not much more entertainment to follow. It was an ugly game but at the final whistle Algeria were the victors. The record books showed that they had won their second Africa cup of Nations.
Algeria had beaten Senegal by a single goal in the group stage and they repeated the feat through their single attempt of the game in the final. Senegal were the better team in the final but Algeria were the best team in the tournament.
Madagascar also deserve a mention for their underdog story. They made it to the quarter-finals in their debut tournament after stunning Nigeria in the group stages and sweeping past DR Congo in the last 16. Tunisia proved to be too strong for them in the quarters, but it will be a tournament to remember for the fans, players and their manager who was plucked from France’s fourth tier, Nicolas Dupuis.
But for me, the best thing about the Africa Cup Of Nations is the love that the nations give their players. The happiness they carry on their faces make you feel like you’re at a party. #mmlove