Nigeria and Algeria compete for bronze

Nigeria tackles Algeria today in a third place playoff in what is undoubtebly the African Cup of Nations most meaningless fixture. Quite why this match is allowed be part of the tournament format, with world leagues in mid-season and requiring their best players, is anybody’s guess. Both teams will enter the fight for the bronze medal with a litany of problems, although the only issue common to both sides will be the heartbreak of missing out on the Final.

Algeria lose the plot

The Super Eagles have managerial issues and coach, Shaibu Amodu’s, reign appears to be drawing to a close. The Nigeria Football Federation president, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, says they will be carrying out a full review of the team and its organisation – including the coach – in the coming weeks. However, he also admitted that Amodu had fulfilled the terms of his contract by leading the Super Eagles to the semi-finals of the Nations Cup. After missing out on the Final though, Amodu and his players will surely feel they have better places to be than Benguela this afternoon.

If that is the case for Nigeria, the Desert Foxes will certainly feel they could do without showing their faces in Angola for a while after some of their antics last Thursday evening. After another headline making fixture with the Egyptians, the Algerians sacrificed their place in the Final, along with their dignity, due to their embarrassing inability to accept decisions that go against them.

Those failings mean Algeria go into the fixture with key suspensions. Rafik Halliche, Nadir Belhadj and keeper, Faouzi Chaouchi – all of whom were sent-off in the semi-final – are unavailable for selection. However, these fixtures are often used to give players who haven’t seen much tournament action a run out and coach, Rabah Saadane, may like to view some of his fringe men in competitive action with the World Cup just around the corner.

The same may also be said of Amodu, but whether he feels the urge to rock the boat further is up for debate. Nwankwo Kanu, Taye Taiwo and Joseph Yobo will certainly be in contention for a starting place as Nigeria look to protect a unique tournament record. The Super Eagles have won on all seven occasions that they have competed for the bronze medal, which at least gives them something to protect.

Amodu: Borrowed time

Predicting the outcome of this game is a horrendously difficult task with it almost impossible to gauge how seriously either team are taking the fixture. The bookies fancy Nigeria at evens, making Algeria a tempting 5/2. And with the Desert Foxes attempting to re-establish a dwindling reputation after the Egypt game, it may give them the edge. The Super Eagles are yet to even register a goal in the knock-out phase and after dominating against Ghana and failing to produce it’s hard to see where they will come from.

Prediction: Algeria 2 Nigeria 0

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