Pointed out by the Algerian press but also by many supporters after the elimination of the Fennecs from CAN 2023, Riyad Mahrez broke his silence in a long interview given to local media La Gazette du Fennec.
The Fennecs have been in Algeria since this morning. Disappointing at CAN 2023, with a team eliminated in the group stages, the second consecutive time in this African competition, the Algerian players left Ivory Coast last night. Now in the country, the Fennecs will have to explain their fiasco on Ivorian soil.
First on the dock, coach Djamel Belmadi, who was dismissed (amicably) from his post. Second in the box, captain Riyad Mahrez, who was only a shadow of himself during this 34th edition. Little in sight, the Al Ahli striker was even left on the bench during the last day of Group D against Mauritania (O-1).
Drowned by a torrent of criticism, sent both by the media and by supporters, the former Manchester City striker decided to respond to his detractors. In a long interview given to The Gazette du Fennec, the 32-year-old first recognized his responsibility in this Algerian fiasco.
“We are the ones responsible, me first, and I blame everyone. We have not been up to par over the last 2-3 years and we are paying for it. We are disappointed and very sad for the Algerian supporters and our families, because it is for the people that we play. We are very touched and we hope that things will bounce back with a new coach. I don’t know what my goal will be, my head is upside down. It’s not easy to come out of such a failure.”he declared in the columns of the newspaper.
On his team’s mediocre record in this tournament, with two draws and one defeat in three matches, the man with 91 caps (31 goals) responded: “we weren’t good, we weren’t up to par. We won so much for a long time, but in football you win and you lose, but you lose more than you win. The problem ? I don’t know. We had good players and a great coach. I think the team, within 3-4 players, are the best players in Algeria.”
Finally, the winner of CAN 2019 charged the press, which he considers to be against the Algerian team. “Many journalists are against us, they are not putting positive pressure. But hey, that’s not the excuse. But I find it unfortunate that there is such media pressure around us. It’s not like we won 10 African Cups and were the favorites all the time.”he concluded.