Onyekuru’s position changed my freekick against Nigeria, Mahrez reveals
Mahrez’s last-gasp freekick in the semi-final shattered Nigeria’s dreams of winning the Africa Cup of Nations for the fourth time in Egypt.
The Man City star stepped forward to drive his effort into the top corner after Ismael Bennacer was brought down just outside the penalty area in stoppage time.
The goal sent the Desert Foxes to the final where they won the Afcon title for the first time in 29 years after a 1-0 victory against Senegal
Ahead of Algeria’s Afcon 2021 qualifying games against Zambia and Botswana, the 28-year-old recalled the moment against the Super Eagles at Cairo International Stadium.
“The free-kick? My first instinct was to watch the time on the stadium screen. There, I read that we were in the 94th minute,”
Mahrez told France Football.
“I told myself that the free-kick was perfect for me, that I have to concentrate on the idea in my mind. I wanted as few people as possible around the ball. But in Algeria, in this kind of situation, everyone feels it, everyone wants to shoot.
“There’s Youcef Belaili who comes next to me, then I think it’s Baghdad Bounedjah. I told him, ‘I’m going to shoot’. I still asked Youcef to stay for the Nigerians to think he’ll eventually hit it.
“Initially, I wanted to put it under the wall and then I saw this player who lied behind it. He changed everything. On the spot, I told myself that it’s dead over the wall opposite the goalkeeper, and it’s dead under the wall because of the player. Only the goalkeeper’s side remained.
“From there, I knew it was manageable but I had to focus on my action and I put it hard. And here we go, I was convinced that I was going to do something strong at the Africa Cup of Nations. I know myself when I play matches, I can score a lot of goals, make assists and be at the top. In Egypt, I had my revenge.”
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