Strengthened by the national team
Algeria have won their first Africa Cup of Nations in 29 years. Cheering them on and finding strength in their performance, are AC Bouarfa – an Algerian team in Gothenburg.
On Friday night Algeria faced Senegal in a match that would crown the champions of Africa. The world was watching as Algeria marched out on the pitch to play their second only final in the country’s history. Beating teams like Nigeria and Ivory Coast on the way forward, the nation had proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, and a great inspiration for the 16 year old boys in AC Bouarfa.
“It’s a very big thing for us to see our national team play in a final“, says goalkeeper Ould Benaissa Anes.
The national team’s semi-final against Nigeria last Sunday turned out to be a real thriller. With 1-1 on the score sheet in the 95th minute many were expecting the game to be decided during extra time or penalties. But Riyad Mahrez, the star from Manchester City, had something else in mind. Scoring a free kick in the final seconds of the game, he sent the North African country into the final with a bang. In a small city in Sweden, 2500 kilometres away from home, the boys in AC Bouarfa witnessed the free kick and erupted in joy.
“I was so happy I was crying”, says Ould Benaissa Anes.
This year’s Gothia Cup was the second time AC Bouarfa participated, and Coach Mohamed Tsalamlal explains that the boys have had a steady development ever since. Many of the players are working hard for a future career.
“We have been training and spending time together for six years, and we a strong will”, he says.
The success in the Africa Cup of Nations is important for the country’s football scene, Mohamed Tsalamlal explains, pointing on the fact that this was just the second win ever. The first time, being a long time ago back in 1990, Algeria was the hosting nation.
“It’s a great moment for Algerian football, but we still struggle with youth development. We have some problems with money, stadiums and those sorts of things. I think we need another five to ten years to catch on”, he says.
Ould Benaissa Anes and his teammates were watching the final together in the school they’re sleeping in. Easy to say the young players thought of this game as one of the biggest in their country’s sports history. Algeria took an early lead after just one minute and were able to finish the game with a clean sheet, to secure the gold medal.
“I want to play in the national team one day. It’s my dream”, he says.