Algeria and Tunisia face off in intriguing 2021 FIFA Arab Cup final in Doha
An exciting final between neighbors Tunisia and Algeria awaits us today in a special final of the Arab Cup.
It has been a wonderful tournament, with the 10th Arab Cup preserving the traditions and characteristics that have long defined the competition.
Algeria assured the final will be historic when they first qualified by beating Qatar 2-1. Thus, they set an appointment with Tunisia, who beat Egypt 1-0, in the first 100% African final since the creation of the tournament.
Last minute goals were an important feature of the group stages, and this continued into the dramatic semi-finals, with both encounters decided very late with the help of friendly shots and a penalty kick.
In the first half of the match against Egypt, Tunisian coach Munther Al-Kabeer adopted a 5-4-1 formation, which allowed his team to put pressure on their opponents. Despite the setback from an injury from Yassin Meriah, he proved to be effective in preventing their opponents from scoring, setting the stage for the late dramatic victory with an own goal from Egyptian captain Amr El-Solia in the 95th minute.
It was Egypt’s first loss in 19 games since being eliminated from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
It remains to be seen to what extent the void left by Meriah will affect the Tunisians in the final. Muhammad Ali bin Ramadan will replace him again, as he did against Egypt.
Throughout the tournament, Tunisia presented a significant air threat from set pieces. Against Egypt, the Carthage Eagles played eight balls from free kicks in the penalty area, including the one that allowed the winner. According to their coach, they should focus on repeating that in the final against Algeria.
The second semi-final between Algeria and Qatar risked being overshadowed by arbitration and VAR, prompting the Sahrawis to celebrate their victory in front of officials, who they said nearly cost them the victory. with the 19-minute shutdown. time added at the end of the 90 minutes.
It was the second game in a row which ended in a great drama for the Algerians. They had put in a great quarter-final performance against their Moroccan neighbors, with the game offering everything we love about football and ending with a tense penalty shootout.
The semi-final against Qatar proved even more dramatic, with the hosts leveling in the sixth minute of stoppage time and the Algerian winner, unbelievably, arriving in the 17th minute.
The final is intriguing between two nations with a long history in continental competitions and World Cup qualifiers. Their last match was a friendly in June which Algeria won 2-1. Their previous match was another friendly in 2019, which Algeria also won. Tunisia’s last victory in this match dates back to the 2017 African Nations.
Algeria has a formidable squad full of high quality players and physical prowess. As coach Majid Bougherra pointed out, his players endured tough games and played more minutes than any other team. He highlighted the difficulty of playing six matches in 17 days with a squad made up mostly of local players and lacking some European-based players like Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
I was particularly drawn to the performances of veteran Algerian goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, especially in the semi-final victory, while for Tunisia, Mohamed Drager, who plays for Nottingham Forest, stood out in the three matches in which he has participated.
At first, the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup looked like a dress rehearsal for Qatar 2022, with many teams seeing it as a warm-up for continental tournaments and World Cup qualifiers in the months to come.
But with every game, culminating in those two semi-finals, it has proven to be a competition worthy of its name. Saturday evening, we expect another titanic battle between Algeria and Tunisia.