BENGUELA: World Cup-bound Nigeria and Algeria will have to dig deep to motivate themselves for Saturday s Africa Cup of Nations losers final.
Nigeria were stopped from reaching the final proper by a youthful Ghana team courtesy of a first-half winner from Asamoah Gyan after the Super Eagles failed to convert a hatful of chances in their semi-final in Luanda on Thursday.
Algeria, on the other hand, held out against their bitter rivals Egypt until just before half time in Benguela when they went behind through a penalty and also lost a defender.
Then in the second half they capitulated to let in three more goals and get two other players sent off.
This is the second time that Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu has failed to reach the Nations Cup final after his team also lost to Senegal in 2002.
Amodu may have met the semi-final target set for him in Angola by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), but the signs are ominous that, as in 2002, he may not be the man in charge when the Eagles feature at the World Cup in South Africa in June.
Osaze Odemwingie, captain on the day against Ghana, did not help the coach s situation when he questioned the team s tactics after the loss to perennial rivals Ghana.
He also said it would be difficult for the team to motivate themselves in the third-place playoff against Algeria at the weekend.
It will be difficult. We will have to travel again for the last game and have only one day to train. We will be tired. Maybe those who have not had a chance will play, said the Lokomotiv Moscow striker.
The Eagles will have their top players available with Everton defender Joseph Yobo pressing for a starting line-up place after he claimed he has had a miracle healing on a hamstring injury that had earlier ruled him of the competition.
The Desert Foxes of Algeria will be without at least three top stars – goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi and defenders Rafik Halliche and Nadir Belhadj – after they all saw red against Egypt in Thursday s semi-final.
It will be a very difficult task for us against Nigeria because we will be without several of our players, admitted coach Rabah Saadane.
Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra insisted Algeria will take a lot of positives from their experience in Angola despite going down to fierce rivals Egypt.
We re a young team, who have continued to make progress. People did not expect us to get to the semi-final, said Bougherra, who again questioned the penalty kick awarded against his team by Benin referee Koffi Codjia.
Nigeria and Algeria last clashed at full international level in 2005 with the west Africans running away 5-2 winners in Algiers in a 2006 World Cup qualifier.