Sunday 19 December 2021, 13:00

Cheti: I want to make the World Cup with Algeria

  • llyes Cheti was one of the players of the tournament at the FIFA Arab Cup™

  • Left-back staked compelling claim for regular place in full national team

  • The Esperance player talks about his country’s Arab Cup triumph

With their impressive performances at the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™, several members of the victorious Algeria squad have done their chances of nailing down a place in the full national team a world of good.

Algeria’s national team head coach, Djamel Belmadi, who lives in Doha, will no doubt have his eye on one or two of them, not least left-back Ilyes Cheti, who made a number of crucial interventions in the final against Tunisia.

“I’m pleased with my performance in the tournament,” a revitalised Cheti told after the final whistle. “I’d be delighted if the coach called me up. That’s my aim. I’m ready to play under Djamel Belmadi.

“Anything is possible if you work hard and keep trying,” he added. “My goal is to be with Algeria at the World Cup in Qatar next year."

Stern test

In a hard-fought final, both Tunisia and Algeria had chances to win the game in normal time.

“It was a tough game and we didn’t make a great start,” explained Cheti. “They came at us hard but we stayed focused till the very last minute. We controlled the game pretty well, took the lead at a good time, and went on to lift the title.

“We’ve come up against strong teams like Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia and we’ve shown in this tournament that we’re a good side that can give anyone a fight.”

Discussing Algeria’s tactics in the closing minutes, Cheti, who plays for Tunisian club Esperance, said: “We opened the scoring and then sat back a bit. You expect that because the opposition have to come out and try to get an equaliser. We made the most of the space that opened up and got the second goal to kill the game off.”

Bringing people together

The Algeria and Tunisia squads shared the same hotel in Doha, and the fans who have been turning up there in number since the start of the tournament were all hoping to see them in the final. The friendly relations between the two sides reflects that of the nations they represent, which share a border, a language and the same culture.

Before the medal ceremony that followed the final, the Algeria players showed their respect for their Tunisia counterparts by forming a guard of honour for them.

“It was the least we could do,” said the Algerian left-back. “We’ve been staying at the same hotel and we both hoped we’d make it to the final. They cheered us on throughout the competition and we cheered them on. And in the end we both made it.

“Before I left the stadium, I waved to the Tunisia fans, some of whom had Esperance flags,” continued Cheti. “The fans kept saying that Algeria and Tunisia are brother nations, and we showed that on the pitch during the game.”

Cheti wrapped up the interview with a few words for the Algeria fans celebrating the title in Doha, back home, and around the world: “We’ve made people happy and we’ve been following our compatriots’ celebrations on social media after every game. It gave us the motivation to go on and win the title, which we dedicate to the Algerian people.”