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Africa Cup of Nations

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi reacts to striker Baghdad Bounedjah decision to stay in Qatar

17:39 EAT 02/01/2019
Baghdad Bounedjah
The Algeria forward recently renewed his contract with Qatari side Al Sadd and ended calendar year 2018 as the world's top scorer

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi says striker Baghdad Bounedjah’s place in the national team will not be affected by his decision to stay in Qatar.

The striker last week signed a new deal that will keep him with Al Sadd until 2024 amid reported interest from English Premier League teams.

He also beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronald to finish the calendar year 2018 as the world’s top scorer after netting 58 goals across all competitions.

With his national team coach Belmadi acknowledging that a transfer to Europe was ideal, he also said it would have been badly timed move for the striker to switch clubs in January and try settling in ahead of June’s Africa Cup of Nations finals.

“I talked to him about it and he knows my position,” Belmadi was quoted as saying by Afrik Foot.

“He's up and running with Al Sadd and the national team. It's important for his career and his goals to play in Europe, but for me it's not the right time to leave. There's the Afcon at the end of the season and going to Europe now would need him to adapt. The game time will be one of the selection criteria so he must be careful. I do think it's the right time to leave.”

Bounedjah’s 2018 goal scoring tally included 39 league goals, 13 in the Asian Champions League and six for the Algerian national team who have already qualified for Afcon.