27 January 2013

Algeria/Togo: Desert Foxes Crash Out of Cup of Nations

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix
Rafik Djebbour of Algeria is challenged by Jay Demerit of United States at the World Cup in 2010.

Algeria have failed once again to turn their potential into a successful Africa Cup of Nations campaign, becoming the first side dumped out of the 2013 tournament in South Africa.

A 2-0 loss to Togo on Saturday night, admittedly a game they dominated large parts of, has sealed their fate and they now go into their final Group D match on Wednesday with only pride to play for against Cote d'Ivoire.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic described himself as "ashamed" by his side's exit and says he takes full responsibility. A noble gesture from the coach, but his players - bar perhaps the excellent Sofiane Feghouli - must share a large slice of the blame. Simply too many have failed to perform.

The Fennec Foxes did have two strong penalty appeals turned down, but Halilhodzic refused to blame the defeat on wrongly-called penalties.

"We can complain and we can cry but today I feel a huge sense of shame and disappointment," he said. "It is as if I did not understand anything about football. It is difficult to analyse the situation, I am taking responsibility for the loss.

"I feel a sense of deep shame. Some of us thought we were too good for Togo and our players wanted to play a style of football that they were not used to. We paid the price for taking them for granted.

"Was there too much pressure on us, or was it something else? I don't know. The fact is that Algeria do not have the player who is able to turn a game at any time.

"In this game we saw a player in Emmanuel Adebayor who showed his class to score for Togo, and that is what the big players are about. But we are far from that. But this team, with three or four new players, maybe at the next Africa Cup of Nations, will do really well."

Togo now have an excellent chance of making the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. They need just a draw against Tunisia in their final match in Nelspruit to create history.

Coach Didier Six admits that the win over Algeria took a lot out of his players and that they will need to find renewed mental energy against the Tunisians.

"We were up against a very good Algeria team, but the win was deserved. Togo had the ambition to win," Six said. "We have to recuperate now. We're in the 'group of death' and we have to put more effort into what we do."

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