Ivory Coast v Algeria: Elephants not only focused on Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez has enjoyed a solid Africa Cup of Nations campaign, but Ivory Coast boss Ibrahim Kamara recognises he is not their only threat.
Ibrahim Kamara warned Ivory Coast that Riyad Mahrez will not be the only threat Algeria pose them in Thursday's Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final.
More than Man City's Mahrez
Algeria have cruised through the AFCON in emphatic fashion, winning all four of their matches without conceding a single goal, including a convincing 3-0 last-16 triumph over Guinea.
While Ivory Coast represent a greater challenge than Algeria have faced so far, the Fennec Foxes are one of the few remaining favourites following the shock exits of Egypt and Morocco.
Mahrez has unsurprisingly been a star for Algeria, though Adam Ounas is the joint-leading scorer in the competition with three and Youcef Belaili – similarly to the Manchester City winger – has two to his name.
Consequently, Kamara wants Ivory Coast to be completely alert to all the Algeria threats, not just Mahrez.
"Algeria is a great team. They do not play only with Riyad Mahrez. If so, the other players would stay in the locker room," Kamara said. "We will face a team that's difficult to handle.
"Djamel Belmadi has done an excellent job since he was made coach. I will not go so far as to say that I would have liked to avoid Algeria, because at this stage of the competition we have no choice.
"To be able to go all the way in this tournament, you have to play seven matches. We've played four, there are still three to go.
"Algeria is a great team, playing for the final coronation. We have our idea about the Algerian team, that is collectively strong with very good individuals."
As impressive as Algeria have been, Belmadi's side need to guard against complacency and he has urged his team to be ready to mount a response if they finally concede.
"We are now in a new stage where we will face difficulties, so we have to be aware," he said. "The players are determined and they will spare no effort to make the people happy.
"We have to have a good reaction in the case of conceding a goal, a scenario that until now we've not experienced during this AFCON. We'd need to recover our poise and change the game in our favour."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ivory Coast – Wonlo Coulibaly
Algeria have been strong as an attacking unit in the competition, with much of their threat coming from the flanks. Mahrez will likely start, meaning Coulibaly could be in for a busy outing. The Elephants' left-back was solid against Mali, however, making six tackles, three clearances and five recoveries.
Algeria – Adam Ounas
Although Mahrez is Algeria's most notable name, Ounas has arguably had a greater impact than any of his team-mates at the tournament. The 22-year-old Napoli winger has three goals and one assist despite making just two appearances. He might start on the bench as he did against Guinea, but he showed he can impact the game as a substitute.
4 - Adam #Ounas has been directly involved in 4 goals (three goals and one assist) in 87 minutes played so far in African Cup of Nations 2019: a joint-record, alongside Odion Ighalo (four goals, but in 280 minutes played). Solver. pic.twitter.com/xTukl1UDIS— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) July 9, 2019
KEY OPTA FACTS
- This will be the eighth game between Algeria and Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Elephants leading three wins to two (two draws).
- Algeria have reached the quarter-finals of the AFCON for the sixth time in their history, their first since they were eliminated by Ivory Coast in 2015. They are the third team to win their four first games in an AFCON campaign without conceding any goals, after Cameroon in 2002 and Ivory Coast in 2012.
- The Elephants will play their 10th AFCON quarter-final, only Ghana have played more (11). They have advanced in five of their last six knockout games in the competition (excluding the final).
- Ounas has been involved in four of Algeria's last six goals in the AFCON (three goals, one assist). He is the joint-top goalscorer of the tournament, alongside Odion Ighalo, Cedric Bakambu and Sadio Mane.
- Wilfried Zaha has scored two of Ivory Coast's last three goals in the AFCON. He netted in each of his past two games in the competition, after failing to do so in the first four.
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