Djamel Belmadi at the time of the “new Algeria” – Jeune Afrique

Algerian national team coach Djamel Belmadi, whose popularity never wavered thanks to his outstanding performance at the head of the squad, had never faced a storm until recent weeks.

But the one who broke the invincibility record for an African team has been facing a wave of criticism from all sides for almost a month since his comments after Algeria’s defeat to Cameroon, and whose rhetoric is reminiscent of that of the Algerian power, always looking for “conspirators” and other “foreign hands”.

emotional yo-yo

Let’s get back to the facts. On March 25 and 29, the play-offs for the 2022 World Cup took place in Qatar, in which Algeria played against Cameroon. In the first leg, Djamel Belmadi’s team won 1-0 on the lawn of the Japoma stadium in Douala. The outcome of the second meeting, which takes place in Blida in Algeria, is therefore decisive, because only the winner will receive a ticket to Doha.

The Indomitable Lions open the scoring in the 22ndand minute, bringing the accumulated counter back to par. Neck and neck, the two teams have to go through extra time to reach a decision.

During the first round, Islam Slimani scored a goal from a cross that put the Fennecs back in the lead. But the jubilation is short: after checking by the video referee assistant (VAR), the Gambian referee, Bakary Gassama, decides to declare the goal invalid because the Algerian striker seems to be involuntarily pushing the ball with his arm at the bottom of the ball. cages.

We’ll never let two or three people conspire against us again

Then follows an emotional yo-yo for the supporters of both countries, the result of a confluence of circumstances such as only the magic of sport can produce. At the 118and minute, Algeria is back in front thanks to a powerful header from Ahmed Touba that sends the Greens into the World Cup two minutes before the end of regular time.

But it was in the closing seconds that the highlight of the show happened. at the 3and minute of extra time (120+3), Olympique Lyonnais striker Karl Toko-Ekambi, already a goalscorer at the start of the match, narrowly scored a double and offered Cameroon their entry into the most prestigious competitions.

Bitter tasting defeat

But from this episode, we don’t remember the vivid adventures of a multi-turn scenario, nor the sporting achievements of each team. Immediately after the meeting, officials of the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) burst into anger and wept. They announce in the days that follow that they will appeal so that the game can be played again. The referee is directly involved and crystallizes all the anger. The Gambian suffers from the insults of the supporters, much to the accusations of the senior officials of the FAF.

Therefore, what could have gone down in history as an anthology match in the history of the two countries has turned in recent weeks into an accumulation of controversies whose sterility is unenviable that in the lowlands of amateur football.

Djamel Belmadi may score points in Algerian public opinion, but abroad he paints the image of a bad loser country

In an interview with the FAF media on April 24, the Algerian coach said, among other things: “We will never let two or three people conspire against us again”, before saying that he felt provoked when he confronted the referee in the room. saw sitting. airport lounge the next day “have a coffee like nothing happened”. “I’m not saying kill him, but don’t leave him like that. We will no longer accept situations like this,” he added.

At the same time, Algerian supporters, for whom the defeat is bitter, have multiplied on social networks, boosted by the legitimization of a conspiracy theory from above, the defamatory accusations against Gassama and the Cameroon Football Association (Fecafoot).

Lack of height

Belmadi’s words therefore put a piece back in the jammed jukebox of social networks, temples of conspiracy and fake news. On April 29, an Algerian journalist went so far as to accuse Moroccan-born actor Jamel Debbouze during a prime-time broadcast of having conducted internal negotiations with the Gambian referee to harm Algeria. And this, of course, without any proof, except for a succession of accusations and shortcuts that were quickly mocked by many Internet users.

In giving in to what should be called a form of demagoguery, Djamel Belmadi may score points in the Algerian opinion, but he seems to score against his camp by portraying abroad the image of an evil country losing and voluntarily plunging in a rampant conspiracy to justify his camp. failures. On the contrary of what made the Algerian coach so popular: competence, open-heartedness and a sense of personal responsibility.

Having become complicit in the controversy, the nevertheless vital issue of arbitration is only mentioned under a defamatory and defamatory prism.

It is that Djamel Belmadi, far from being convinced of his pan-Africanism when he said he was doing this “for Africa and for those who cannot speak”, on the contrary provoked the ire of the Gambian and Cameroonian football associations, which publicly expressed their disapproval on the methods used by Algeria.

” Punching ball “

When the coach was invited to speak at the RMC microphone on May 2, many expected a form of kicking back. But hopes were quickly dashed. Far from being a mea culpa, even timid, Belmadi preferred to invite the press to “show more journalistic ethics”, while also affirming that he is not in favor of violence.

Now that the controversy has been subordinated to the controversy, the nevertheless essential issue of arbitration is only mentioned under a defamatory and defamatory prism, leaving only a few audible voices to remind us that Bakary Gassama is a 43-year-old experienced referee, who in several major competitions.

Easy prey, the umpires regularly act as a “punching bag” at the end of contested matches, serving as an outlet for all the frustrations and excitement of rampant supporters. As is often the case in these kinds of situations, the accused can only take the blows, as he is bound by a duty of restraint and a certain ethics that he has not yet renounced.

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