Riyad Mahrez: Ready Algeria will have no excuse against Kenya

The Desert Foxes claimed a hard-fought victory over Mali to wrap up their preparation for the continental tournament

Riyad Mahrez believes Algeria will have no excuse when they take on Kenya in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) game on Sunday.

Djamel Belmadi’s men are based in Doha, Qatar where the climatic conditions are similar to Egypt.

The Desert Foxes have played two friendly games in readiness for the competition, against Burundi and Mali, drawing with the Swallows and claiming a 3-2 victory over the Eagles.

The Manchester City winger is pleased with his side’s preparation and looks forward to a good performance against the Harambee Stars.

“Indeed, on this second match, we feel physically better. As I said in the first game, we gradually build up. After organizing his preparation, the coach insisted that we come here knowing the conditions are similar to those we have in Cairo,” Mahrez told DZfOOT.

“For us, it was important to adapt to these conditions and at the end of our training camp here, I think we managed to acclimatize. In addition, we will arrive in Cairo with another week of training on site. From there, we will have no excuses against Kenya.

“Yes, we are ready [for Afcon]. As I said, we had to ramp up, now we did it. We played against a very good team of Mali composed of excellent players. We must know that in Africa we will never dominate an end-to-end match. We did our work by doing the round back, attack, counter, keep the ball and we were rewarded by the result.

“Scoring three goals is something important and uncommon, the last time we achieved that was against Togo. This is a very good thing but we are not carried away and we will stay focused because the next game against Kenya will be harder."

On Sunday, Mahrez provided the assist for the Andy Delort’s match-winning goal against Mali after coming off the bench.

The 27-year-old feels the West Africans gave his side a good test ahead of the commencement of the continental tournament.

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“In this match, we played well in the first twenty minutes, then we dropped a little intensity. We conceded goals that we could have avoided. On the other hand, I think that we came back stronger in the second half. After the 70th minute of play, I think we managed to beat them and we could have ended scoring four or five goals to two, thanks to the opportunities we created," he continued.

“However, I think it was a good test for us against a very good team who also have quality players This is a kind of team that we will meet in Egypt. Tonight, everything was not perfect but we will are happy with the victory and that's the point.”

After their opening game against Kenya, they will take on Senegal four days later before their final group C game against Tanzania on July 1.