AFCON 2023: Algeria name final squad, West Ham star dropped

Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi has named a 26-man squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast next month.

Former Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez leads the Algerian charge, alongside influential players like Youcef Belaili, Sofiane Feghouli and Baghdad Bounedjah. But there was a shocking omission…

Unlucky Benrahma

West Ham and Algeria star Said Benrahma

West Ham winger Said Benrahma is the only big name missing.

Benrahma has only made four Premier League starts this campaign. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old Algerian, he is competing with Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus for starting spots in the West Ham line-up. The pair are in a rich vein of form and have a combined total of 20 goals across all competitions this season.

There were places for Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Rayan Ait Nouri and AS Roma midfielder Houssem Aouar, who has been sidelined due to muscular pain.

Ismael Bennacer returns to Algeria squad

By a quirk of fate, AC Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer has rejoined the Algeria squad for the upcoming AFCON finals.

Ismael Bennacer in action for AC Milan
Photo by Icon sport

This marks his return after undergoing knee surgery in May from a cartilage injury to his right knee sustained during last season's Champions League semi-finals.

Bennacer made his comeback in league action for Milan earlier this month. The 26-year-old's most recent appearance for Algeria was during the Nations Cup qualifiers in March.

Algeria making 20th AFCON appearance

Algeria will be making their 20th appearance at the AFCON since their debut appearance in 1968. Furthermore, Belmadi, who led Algeria to victory in 2019, has included eleven players in his squad for the upcoming AFCON who also featured in the 2019 tournament.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Anthony Mandrea (SM Caen), Rais Mbolhi(CR Belouizdad), Oussama Benbot (USM Alger)

Defenders: Youcef Atal (Nice), Kevin Guitoun (Metz), Rayan Ait Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Yasser Larouci (Sheffield United), Aissa Mandi (Villarreal), Mohamed Tougai (Esperance Tunis), Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Dortmund), Ahmed Touba (US Lecce), Zineddine Belaid (USM Alger)

Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb (Lille), Sofiane Feghouli (Fatih Karagumruk), Houssem Aouar (AS Roma), Fares Chaibi (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ramiz Zerrouki (Feyenoord Rotterdam), Hicham Boudaoui (Nice), Ismael Bennacer (AC Milan)

Forwards: Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli), Adam Ounas (Lille), Mohamed Amoura (Union Saint-Gilloise), Amine Gouiri (Stade Rennais), Youcef Belaili (MC Alger), Baghdad Bounedjah (Al-Sadd), Islam Slimani (Coritiba)

Algeria will start their Nations Cup finals journey against Angola in Group D on January 15, followed by matches against Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The North African team heads into the tournament among the favourites to lift the trophy, having secured a second AFCON title in Egypt in 2019.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu is a purpose-driven Ghanaian sports writer with a sharp eye for excellence. He has had stints with www.kickgh.com inkandkicks.com and ghanafans.com. He loves to talk and write about football on the African continent.