Senegal/Algeria: Lions of Teranga Oust Star-Studded Algeria from Afcon

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Algeria were condemned to another failure at the African Nations Cup finals after a 2-2 draw with Senegal on Monday saw them finish third in Group B in Gabon.

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The North African side had entered the competition with high hopes and a star-studded squad of players that included African Footballer of the Year Riyaad Mahrez, but managed just two points from a possible nine in the pool phase.

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They could not even beat a relaxed Senegal side that made 10 changes as coach Aliou Cisse shuffled his pack with top spot in the pool already assured.

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Coach Georges Leekens now faces an uncertain future, especially after Algeria also made a poor start to the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

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“We had to play for our honour and we had opportunities to win,” Leekens told reporters. “I am proud of our performance and how we competed against a good Senegal team. It was difficult to play against guys who have not played yet, and who wanted to show their ability.

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“I warned that Senegal is a big favourite and we showed we could match them in difficult times, it is important for the future.

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“Overall it is a disappointment, you cannot deny that, but we must use it [the experience] for the future, to grow. The qualification for Russia … we will get there, I think my players showed they could react.”

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The problems for Leekens are obvious—the side need to tighten up defensively. They conceded two goals in each of their three games, while in their last competitive match ahead of the tournament they conceded three in a World Cup qualifier in Nigeria.

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For Senegal, Cisse was pleased with the showing of his much-changed side and thankful for the fact he could rest key players ahead of a quarterfinal clash with Cameroon in Franceville on Saturday.

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“I gave the opportunity to other boys in the third game, since when players do not get the chance to play it can complicate things,” Cisse said. ”I’m satisfied with the performance of our team. It was important to give playing time and that everyone can be involved.”

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Cisse also insists that Cameroon will be favourites to win their quarterfinal clash.

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“They are favourites, they are a great football nation. Cameroon has a very experienced coach [Hugo Broos] and it is for us to prepare for this match calmly.

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“We work towards the quarterfinal and we cannot say that a team is more likely to win the Cup, [at this stage] everyone is a favourite, we just need to prepare well.”

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