BY STEVE AYOO
Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr expects a much tougher Algerian side than they one his side beat 3-1 during the qualifying rounds for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.
Rohr’s men battle the Desert Foxes in the second semifinal at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday evening in Cairo.
The German boss, whose side got here courtesy of a 2-1 victory over South Africa, believes that Algeria has made huge strides since the two sides met.
“They [Algeria] were shaky at the time,” Rohr said in his prematch comments.
“We beat them 3-1 and they made lots of individual errors and defensive mistakes that made it easier for us to win. They were also fragile in the draw.
“Now I see a solid Algeria side with a good balance between attack and defence. They’re still physical, but they have come on since and it will be a much harder match than in World Cup qualifying.”
Algeria went the distance with Ivory Coast in their quarterfinal battle, eventually winning 4-3 on post-match penalties after Jonathan Kodjia had canceled Sofiane Feghouli’s first half strike.
It was the first time that Algeria conceded a goal in normal time in the competition.
The victory earned Algeria only their second semifinal appearance since they won the title in 1990 and head coach Djamel Belmadi has challenged his boys to write their own history.
“The one that we won was in 1990, a long time ago when it was at home. We’ve never won since. This is away from home, it’s more difficult, of course,” Belmadi told reporters.
“This is our target, we want to write our history and the players want to write their history as well.
“It’s not far — two more steps, but two very difficult steps to this great achievement. We will try our best.”
This will be the ninth meeting between the two sides, which makes it the most regular Afcon encounter for both teams. Both have won thrice with two draws.
Nigeria and Algeria met during qualifying for the 2018 Russia World Cup with the Super Eagles winning 3-1 and then drawing 1-1. They both go into the match high in confidence after fine performances in the competition. Algeria have conceded only once in normal time but face a Nigerian outfit which has netted in all but one game, the shocking 2-0 defeat to Madagascar. Promises to be tight. 1-1 full time, penalties to decide.