LEEKENS

Algeria head coach resigns after AFCON exit

LEEKENS

LEEKENS

Algeria coach Georges Leekens has resigned following the team’s early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Desert Foxes were one of the pre-tournament favourites but crashed out of the finals on Monday after failing to win a game in Gabon.

“For the good of all I decided to quit even though I do it with heart ache,” Leekens told the Algerian Football Federation website.

“I wish all the success in the world to the national side.”

The 67-year-old Belgian was appointed to the role only in Octobe r, for what was his second spell in charge following a four-month stint in 2003.

He had been expected to take Algeria deep into the latter stages at least in Gabon, coaching a side that contains BBC and Caf African Footballer of the Year Riyad Mahrez and his Leicester team-mate Islam Slimani, Porto’s Yacine Brahimi and Napoli’s Faouzi Ghoulam.

But the team underperformed at the tournament, beginning their Group B matches with a shock 2-2 draw with Zimbabwe – in which they scored an 82nd goal by Mahrez to rescue a point.

That was followed by a 2-1 defeat by their north African Neighbours Tunisia , which left them needing to beat Senegal in their final match on Monday to have any chance of making it to the quarter-finals.

But they were held 2-2 by a reserve Senegal side, who had already won the group before the match, and suffered an embarrassing elimination.

Algeria are also struggling to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

They are bottom of Group B – which also contains Nigeria, Cameroon and Zambia – after two matches, having drawn one and lost one.

Only the group winners go through and they already trail Nigeria by five points.

“Given the pressure on the federation and the national team, I preferred to end my contract out of friendship for the president of the FAF (Algerian Football Federation) who deserves respect,” Leekens added.

Leekens was Algeria’s third coach in a year, following on from Milovan Rajevac and Christian Gourcuff.

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