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On Tuesday, Algeria’s 1-0 home defeat by Zambia meant the North Africans could no longer qualify for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
At the 2014 tournament in Brazil, Algeria were one of two African teams to reach the knock-out stage, taking eventual champions Germany to extra-time before losing in the second round.
The last time Algeria lost an official match at home prior to Tuesday’s lacklustre display against Zambia, was when a slick Guinean side ran away with a 2-0 win in Algiers and led to a tense atmosphere in the stadium.
It was June 2007 and the hosts had failed to qualify for the following year’s Africa Cup of Nations (a tournament the Algerians won in 1990).
Fearing physical reprisal from angry mobs outside the Stade du 5 Juillet stadium, Algeria’s players remained in the dressing room for hours after the match.
On Tuesday evening in Constantine however, there was neither anger nor fear – just an overwhelming urge to understand.
“We should not lie to ourselves, even if we had won against Zambia, the Algerian national team is sick and football in this country is sick,” declared Algeria Football Federation (Faf) president Kheireddine Zetchi.
That’s why we are asking the public to give us time. We need to rebuild on strong foundations.”