Algeria coach thanks pitch for dramatic win

8 May 2017

Algeria can thank the artificial pitch in Baku, according to coach Ameur Chafik, for their dramatic last-gasp 2-1 win over Turkey at the start of the Islamic Solidarity Games football tournament on Monday.

"Turkey are a very good side and they impressed me in their previous games. But they are used to playing on a natural pitch and here in Baku it was an artificial one", says Chafik.

"We are used to playing on artificial pitches in Algeria and it helped us develop our game and football."

But the real hero of the day was substitute Farid El Melali who came off the bench to score a goal worthy of Argentina legend Diego Maradona and then earn a last-minute penalty to secure victory for the young Fennecs.

"He's a key player for us but was injured. He had back problems. So I kept him off on purpose, knowing he could help us in the second half", said Chafik.

With his pace and skills, the AC Paradou forward provided the spark Algeria needed after struggling against Turkey's well-oiled defence.
"He was a real ace in the hole", said defender Maher Azzouz.

"I had some real doubts in the beginning, when we couldn't break down Turkey. But these players are very young and, for most of them, it was their first international competition", explained Algeria's coach.

"We lacked a lot of players through injury or club duty so we had to change and reorganise a few things", he added.

"We also had to work on the players psychologically to convince them of their potential."

With a win in the bag against their fellow group B favourites, Algeria will hope to make it back-to-back victories when they face Palestine on Thursday.

"We came here to gain experience and prepare for the future, especially the 2020 Olympic Games qualifications. After that? We're going to give our very best and anything that comes is just bonus."

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