Algeria head coach Djamel Belmadi has expressed confidence in under-fire captain Riyad Mahrez’s ability to regain his top form at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Riyad Mahrez, who joined Saudi Pro League side Al-Ahli for £30 million last summer after five years at Manchester City, has faced criticism for his subpar performances in Algeria’s first two group matches.
The Desert Foxes drew 2-2 with Burkina Faso and had a 1-1 draw with Angola. To secure a spot in the knockout stage, they must defeat Mauritania by a margin of two goals on Tuesday.
Belmadi told a press conference: “I don’t want people to forget what Mahrez can do.
“These were not his best two matches in the national team, but do not kill him quickly.
“I will not tell you whether he will be a starter or on the bench, that is not the most important thing.
“He is still our leader. He has always played under pressure. The team and I have complete confidence in him.”
Algeria, the group favorites and 2019 tournament winners, managed to secure a draw against Burkina Faso with a double from Baghdad Bounedjah, including a stoppage-time equalizer. Despite being unbeaten in their last 10 matches, Algeria is seeking its first win in six Africa Cup of Nations fixtures.
On the other hand, Mauritania suffered a 3-2 defeat to Angola, leaving them at the bottom of the group without any points. Mauritania has yet to win a match at the Africa Cup of Nations, having lost six and drawn two of their previous eight encounters in the tournament.