Algeria targeting Ivory Coast scalp
Algeria will look to exit the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations on a high note when they meet Group D leaders Ivory Coast at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday night, kick-off at 7pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).
The Fennec Foxes will be searching for their first positive results in the competition after losing 1-0 to Tunisia in their opening match, before going down 2-0 against Togo to end their hopes of reaching the knockout stage.
Nonetheless, captain Medhi Lacen believes a bright future lies ahead for this young squad and remains hopeful that they can bow out in style and stun one of the tournament favourites.
“This team is composed of young players who will be able to excel in the future and prove to everyone that they have potential,” said Lacen.
“This elimination has been very bitter, especially since we were well prepared for a good tournament. I think we played well but we only failed to score goals.
"As captain, I am very confident about the future of the national team, which needs to be encouraged in these difficult times.
“Against Ivory Coast, we’ll try to score goals and defend our honour. It will do us good, especially since we have not scored so far.”
The misfiring Algerians will be up against it as they will face an Ivorian side that has achieved a perfect record so far to top the group with six points.
The Elephants kicked off their campaign with a nervy 2-1 win over Togo, but look more confident in their second match as they went on to register a 3-0 win over Tunisia.
Gervinho and Yaya Toure have scored in each of the two matches, while Didier Ya Konan contributed the third goal against Tunisia to confirm his side’s passage to the quarterfinal round as group winners.
However, the Arsenal players says they are still viewing their last group match as a crucial encounter which will have an effect on their momentum going into the next round.
“This is the perfect start for us,” said Gervinho. “After the first game we knew at heart that we had to do something good.
“Personally, I feel comfortable with the team. We have this urge to do well and winning by three clear goals was important for the group and for the rest of the tournament.
“We will prepare (for the game against Algeria) like any other. Algeria is a great team and we also have our weapons.
“It was this collective strength and experience that allowed us to deal with difficult situations in our previous matches and it is in this spirit that we will play the last game.
“We came to play six finals. We won two. The match against Algeria will be our third final.
“The fact that we have qualified will not have a negative impact on our game. We will do what we know and play our game because every game is an opportunity to correct mistakes for upcoming games.”
Current Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic was in charge of the Elephants from 2008 to 2010 and he knows the current group of players very well, but whether he will be able to outsmart current coach Sabri Lamouchi remains to be seen.
When the two sides last met in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations it was the Algerians who were celebrating after the final whistle as they secured a 3-2 victory in extra time to eliminate Ivory Coast from the quarterfinals.