Femi Solaja in Cairo
The expected hostility that may happen before, during and after the semi final match between Nigeria and Algeria Sunday may have started to play itself out Saturday when the coach of the Desert Foxes, Djamel Belmadi, took a swipe on a question asked by Nigerian media at the pre-match conference.
A Nigerian journalist, Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke, had asked the coach to comment on the incident that happened in the last match against Côte ‘d’ Ivoire when his defender, Sofiane Feghouli, simulated by forcing his hand on Wilfred Zaha and fell down waiting for the referee to blow for a foul play inside the box.
The short video clip of the incident had gone viral but when asked about the scene the coach simple turned the journalist question down and instead questioned her professionalism.
The media room was raging with anger when all the Algerian media men applauded the response but it took the coordinator of the programme some minutes before normalcy returned to the room.
“Gentlemen of the press, we need to be conscious of the fact that we are journalists and not fans, the clapping is disgraceful and tomorrow in the press gallery we must conduct ourselves and ensure that we don’t turn the arena into a fans pavilion, “ the Media Coordinator, Ibrahim Sani from Ghana remarked after the incident.
Meanwhile Nigerian coach Gernot Rohr was earlier asked the same incident and how he intends to take care of expected simulation of the Algerian players. “Honestly I did not notice the incident but all I know is that FIFA frowns at such things hence we leave that to referee to handle. All my energy is channeled towards how we handle our match plans and the tactics we intend to adopt,” he remarked.
Kenneth Omeruo also said that as a defender, they have instruction from the coach to minimize or eradicate fouls in the vital area. “We will be very alert to any form of antics from the Algerians and every one of us would be ready against the unprofessional match plan they may want to adopt,” he said with enthusiasm as he left the arena to join the rest of the team in camp.