AFCON 2023: Algeria coach makes decision on veteran goalkeeper

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has made a big update on veteran goalkeeper Raïs M'Bolhi ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

37-year-old M'Bolhi is the other surprise inclusion on Belmadi's 26-man list for the AFCON 2023, alongside USM Alger's central defender Zineddine Belaïd.

Part of Algeria's 2014 World Cup squad, as well as the starting goalkeeper in the AFCON-winning team in 2019, the goalkeeper has not featured for the national team since November 2022.

Belmadi’s focus on M’Bolhi

M'bohli is not expected to be the team's starting goalkeeper at the AFCON. He has been prepared for a backup role, with Caen's Anthony Mandréa, who has established himself between the sticks since September, the starting option, per Belmadi at a press conference just before the team departed for the pre-AFCON training camp in Togo.

Algeria's Rais M'bohli hanging out with ball boys
Credit: Icon Sport

“For the goalkeeper position, things must be clarified from the start with a hierarchy that is ready and players who are aware of this hierarchy,” said Belmadi. He further made clear that Mandrea will start games at the Nations Cup, M'bohli will be the second choice. USM Alger's Oussama Benbot completes Belmadi's goalkeeping options. However, despite this established hierarchy, Belmadi expects healthy competition between his shot-stoppers.

The AFCON begins on January 13 and runs till February 11. Belmadi and the Fennec Foxes have a tricky opening game against 2010 quarter-finalists Angola. They've also been paired alongside Burkina Faso and Mauritania in Group D.

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Kelechi Udoka

Kelechi is an avid Enyimba fan who enjoys writing about the beautiful game. He has written thousands of articles for a few publications over the years.