Afcon 2019: Algeria must focus less on Mahrez – Belmadi

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Riyad Mahrez - Algeria vs Kenya
The Manchester City man was on the scoresheet against the Harambee Stars to help his side to an impressive start in the tournament

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has urged his side to focus less on their star player Riyad Mahrez if they are to be successful at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

The Desert Foxes kicked off their campaign in the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Kenya on Sunday, with Mahrez scoring one of the goals.

However, the 43-year-old gaffer has warned the Desert Foxes from over-reliance on the Manchester City winger.

“I do not like highlighting players. We need to put a little less focus on Mahrez if we want to make this a big tournament for us,” he told the press after their win over the Harambee Stars.

Belmadi, who won 20 caps for Algeria, recalled their previous struggles in their opening games and is delighted with the impressive start in the tournament.

“It means a lot to win the first match in any competition. We used to start poorly, it was always difficult for us to start well at the Africa Cup,” he continued.

“In our history, most of the time, we often lost the first match, so this is also a message to the players that we can go far."

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The Desert Foxes will take on West African giants Senegal, who are considered a major contender for the Afcon title, in their next Group C game on Thursday.

“We expect a tough match against Senegal, the tournament favourite. It’s a challenge we have to take on," he concluded.

Algeria will hope to clinch the Afcon title for the second time in their history in Egypt, having won it 1990.