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Algeria arrive in Morocco for World Cup qualifier amid diplomatic tensions

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People walk past graffiti drawn on a wall depicting a helicopter and soldiers with the flags of (L to R) Algeria, Palestine, and Tunisia, in the town of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia on August 27, 2021. – Many people in Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that launched the Arab Spring, see President Kais Saied’s power grab as a necessary evil. But there are also fears that last month’s dismissal of parliament, sacking of the prime minister and Saied’s assumption of sweeping powers may bring Tunisia one step closer to another dictatorship. (Photo by ANIS MILI / AFP)

Algeria’s football team arrived in Morocco on Monday on the eve of their African World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso, against a backdrop of diplomatic tensions between the North African neighbours.

The Algerian delegation “was received by Moroccan football federation officials at Marrakesh airport”, said Mohamed Makrouf, an official from the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF).

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“As usual, we hope to win,” said Djamel Belmadi, coach of Algeria, known as the “Fennecs”, before departing.

“We are going to play football, politics has nothing to do with it.”

Last month, Algeria announced it was cutting diplomatic ties with Morocco, accusing it of “hostile actions” after months of high tensions between the North African rivals.

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Morocco has called the severing of ties “completely unjustified” and said the decision was based on “false, even absurd pretexts”.

The match between Algeria and Burkina Faso, part of the second round of World Cup qualifiers, will be played in Morocco as Burkina Faso’s stadium does not comply with FIFA standards.

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