x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Coach admits to playing out a draw

The Algeria manager Saadane concedes he told the team to "take it easy" but denies contriving and playing unfairly to get the result and force Mali out.

The Algeria coach, Rabah Saadane, has admitted that he told his team to "take it easy" during their draw with Angola at the African Cup of Nations, after Mali lodged an official complaint to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) over Monday's 0-0 result which knocked them out of the tournament. Mali missed out on a quarter-final place despite beating Malawi 3-1 in their final Group A game, because of the Angola-Algeria stalemate and claim the sides purposely played out a draw. But Saadane denies the result was contrived and said both teams played by the rules of the game. "I play by the rules, but there were 20 minutes left and Mali were leading 3-1," said Sadaane. "We had the rules and knew that if Mali won, we would go through. So we said to our players, 'Now stop. Either score or draw - absolutely minimum'. Mali can feel frustrated because they had a better goal difference than us."

Angola finished top on five points, one ahead of Algeria and Mali. Algeria advanced due to a better head-to-head record against Mali although they had a worse goal difference (-2 against +1). In their protest to CAF the Malian football federation (FMF) claimed the attitude of both sides was contrary to Fifa's ethics of fair play. The FMF stated that CAF had taken action in the past; neither Cameroon or Egypt were given points for a draw that occurred at the 2001 African Junior Championship. Saadane agreed that the rules have to change. "We were lucky because the rules favoured us, but Mali are right because the rules aren't normal," he said.

* With agencies