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Mahrez out of Algeria’s AFCON qualifiers against Uganda, Tanzania

Mahrez scores as Algeria beat Nigeria to reach AFCON Final - Sports Leo
Riyad Mahrez during a past match for Algeria
  • Mahrez has pulled out of the squad due to injury
  • Several senior players have been dropped
  • Coach Djamel Belmadi has made seven new call ups

Algeria skipper Riyad Mahrez has pulled out of the team’s two 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Tanzania and Uganda due to an injury, the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) has said.

The midfielder who clinched the English Premier League title with Manchester City played their last game of the season against Aston Villa but was withdrawn in the second half. He will now not be able to play for his country but instead proceed on holiday as he seeks more time to recover from a grueling season.

Algeria head coach Djamel Belmadi will now seek fresh solutions in his goal creation options with Mahrez out.

Meanwhile, the tactician has made several bold changes in his tea, dropping several senior players from the squad as he seeks to refresh them following a tough last few months which saw them fail to defend their AFCON title as well as miss out on qualification to the World Cup.

Clubless defender Djamel Benlamri leads the list of players who have been dropped. Others are Al Sadd striker Baghdad Bounedjah, Midfielder Soufiane Feghouli who plays for Galatasary and back up goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja.

Meanwhile, the coach has named seven new faces into the squad.

Belmadi has called in among others Angers goalkeeper Anthony Mandrea as well as defenders Akim Zedadka (Clermont Foot 63 / France) and Yanis Hamache (Boavista FC / Portugal).

Also earning their maiden call ups to the national team include midfielder Abdelkahar Kadri who plays for Courtrai KV in Belgium, OGC Nice forward Billel Brahimi (OGC Nice/France) and Billel Omrani who plays in Romania for CFR Cluj.

ES Setif forward Riad benayad who shone for his club at the TotalEnergies CAF Champions League in their run up to the semi-finals has been rewarded with a maiden call up as well.

Algeria National team

Algeria National team. Photo/Middle East Eye

Les Fennecs start their training at the National Technical Center (CTN) in Sidi Moussa on Monday, before facing Uganda on Saturday June 4 at the July 5 Stadium.

After the tie, the 2019 Africa Champions travel down East to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where they tackle their hosts on June 8 at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium.

Belmadi is under immense pressure to ensure the team bounces back to good performances. The youthful tactician who led Algeria to their first AFCON triumph in 29 years in 2019 had come under immense scrutiny after their poor performance at the Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

What made it worse was their failure to qualify for the World Cup after losing to Cameroon who scored a late goal to earn the ticket to Qatar.

Algeria’s full squad:

Goalkeepers: M’bolhi (Al-Ettifaq/Arabie saoudite), Zeghba (Damac FC/Arabie saoudite), Mandrea (Angers SCO/ France).

Defenders: Mandi (Villarreal/Espagne), Bedrane (ES Tunis/Tunisie), Zedadka (Clermont Foot 63/France), Benayada (ES Sahel/Tunisie), Touba (RKC Waalwijk/Pays-Bas), Tougaï (ES Tunis/ Tunisie), Bensebaïni (B. Monchengladbach/Allemagne), Hamache (Boavista FC/Portugal)

Midfielders: Zerrouki (FC Twente/Pays-Bas), Zorgane (Charleroi/Belgique), Boudaoui (OGC Nice/France), Bendebka (Al-Fateh SC/Arabie saoudite), Kadri (KV Courtrai/Belgique), Bennacer (AC Milan/Italie).

Strikers: Belaïli (Stade Brestois 29/France), Brahimi (OGC Nice/France), Ghezzal (Besiktas/Turquie), Ounas (Naples/Italie), Amoura (FC Lugano/Suisse), Slimani (Sporting Lisbonne/Portugal), Omrani (Cluj/Roumanie), Benayad (ES Sétif/Algérie).

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