2022 World Cup Preview: Algeria vs. Cameroon

Sona Balakhchyan
Dethroned African champions Algeria would want to quickly put aside their embarrassing Africa Cup of Nations campaign by securing the FIFA World Cup qualification.

But that won’t come on a silver platter as they have to see off Cameroon in a stern play-offs test next month. After exiting the tournament at the group stages, the Fennecs had a shambolic experience in Cameroon, losing two matches and drawing the other against Sierra Leone.

Algeria was on a 35-game unbeaten run going into the AFCON tourney and was bizarrely torn apart with the defeats to Equatorial Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire. The Greens finished top of Burkina Faso, Niger, and Djibouti with an undefeated record in the group stages of the qualifiers.

Djamel Belmadi will want his side to get the winning mood to ensure his return to the country where it all started in his coaching career. Belmadi handled Lekhwiya FC and the Qatari national team before his appointment in 2018 as head coach of Algeria – gone ahead to conquering Africa in 2019 with the AFCON triumph.
The People of Algeria prefer a ticket to the World Cup in November as a cover-up to their shameful AFCON outing. The unavailability of defender Youcef Atal for the double-header against the Indomitable Lions remained a headache to Belmadi.

Algeria missed out in the World Cup in 2018 but had previously participated in 2014, 2010, 1986, and 1982 editions. The latter has never beaten Cameroon in any competitive fixture, significantly worrying the Fennecs. Cameroon couldn’t achieve the host and win target at the end of AFCON 2021 but had a bronze medal to celebrate after coming from three goals down to beat Burkina Faso in the 3rd place play-off. This should be an additional inspiration to the Indomitable Lions ahead of the double-header against Algeria in the play-offs in March.

The Indomitable Lions have qualified for the Mundial seven times, more than any other African side (1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, and 2014). Cameroon’s last appearance at the World Cup was in 2014, and they are poised to reclaim a spot in Qatar later in the year. Portuguese trainer Antonio Conceiçao Oliviera has been confirmed to continue as head coach of Cameroon, and his prime target is to secure a ticket to the Gulf. The striking combination of AFCON top scorer and captain Vincent Aboubakar and Karl Toko Ekambi will come to the fore if the Indomitable Lions overcome Algeria. The duo scored 13 goals for Cameroon at the AFCON.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting won’t be available for the play-offs following his fall out with Conceiçao, which saw the Bayern Munchen star miss the 3rd place play-off game. The two previous World Cup qualification clashes between Cameroon and Algeria have seen the Indomitable Lions prevailing with a 1-1 draw at away and a 2-0 win at home.

Stade Japoma in Douala, Cameroon, will host the first leg of this crucial tie on Saturday, March 24, 2022, at 19:00 GMT, whereas the second leg comes off at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker on Tuesday, March 28, 2022, at the same kick-off time in Blida, Algeria.

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