AFCON 2023: Djamel Belmadi calls on a retired Fennec

With just over a month to go until the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled for 13 January to 11 February 2024, Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi should be able to count on the return of a retired Fennec.

Six months after retiring from international football (last June), with six caps to his name, goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja would like to come out of retirement with the African Cup of Nations just around the corner.

According to his FC Metz team-mate and the Fennecs right-back Kévin Guitoun (5 caps), the 35-year-old goalkeeper, who won the continental title as an understudy in 2019, intends to contribute his experience, particularly in terms of team life.

«Talking to him, I think he announced his retirement a little too early. Maybe he was a bit hasty. Ouki (Oukidja) is someone with experience, he can bring a lot to the group. He’s already won an African Cup of Nations. He has that experience and he can give a lot of advice. An African Cup of Nations isn’t won just by the players on the pitch. There’s also everything that happens away from home. There’s a group life and he’s someone who’s important to the group, » reveals Kévin Guitoun.

Oukidja, who has put in some outstanding performances for Messini (including three appearances in Ligue 1’s team of the week), had seen Djamel Belmadi not close the door on him should he be keen to return.

«We made him a cake, gave him a shirt, etc. He said he had retired. If he goes back on his decision tomorrow, all we’ll have lost is a cake and a jersey! In any case, he’s competitive, plays in the first division and plays good games, so if he wants to come back, I’ll consider it», said the coach.

Since then, however, water has flowed under the bridge, and Anthony Mandréa has established himself as a safe pair of hands in the Fennecs’ goal.

A comeback is therefore out of the question, according to La Gazette du Fennec. Nevertheless, he could make himself available if need be, says the Algerian source, knowing that Mustapha Zeghba is lacking game time at Demac and that Raïs M’Bolhi, who has not been called up for months, is not impressing with CR Belouizdad.

The 3rd choice in the hierarchy since June, Oussama Benbot (USM Alger) would be the big loser of this comeback.


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