“I thought about quitting football”

Before joining the EN camp, the darling of Algerian supporters passed through Oran to recharge his batteries with his family. The chance for us to meet him to talk to him. As usual, the Brest striker responded kindly to our request. Enjoying!

After the brutal elimination at the World Cup, EN starts a new challenge this week…

After this elimination we were stunned and most of all disappointed for the Algerian people, whom we always try to please. Unfortunately, that day we failed in our mission to get to the 2022 World Cup. Once again our apologies to our supporters as we promise them other delights. This week we open a new page and we are back in force.

Very shaken by this elimination, you did not return to France the day after the game against Cameroon…

I saw our dream of going to the World Cup fade away a few seconds before the end of the match. My morale was at an all-time low after that, as 4 years of work had gone up in smoke. Frankly, I even considered making an important decision.

Which means ?

End my football career. We felt guilty about this elimination, that we violated the trust of the Algerians who believed as much as we, the players, in this qualification. The days that followed this meeting I was very demoralized, I didn’t want to play football anymore, I was disappointed.

Who kept you from giving up on this decision to quit?

My family, my parents and my family. There are also my friends who have been of great moral support in this difficult trial that I have been through. I have to admit that my club, Stade Brestois 29, have done everything they can to help me overcome this ordeal. Their support made me happy. I thank everyone because I say it and repeat, I was in a black hole.

The scenario of the match with this goal, seconds before the whistle, broke the morale of all Algerians…

We did not expect such a scenario. While all eyes were on the referee for the final whistle of the match and to celebrate qualifying, we take this killer goal. It’s like the sky is falling on us! Now that is a thing of the past, we are going to start the qualifications for CAN 2023 and we have to negotiate that. Once in the final stage we will try to win it. It would be the best we can offer to the people who have suffered more lately than we have.

The EN was supposed to start its play-offs at the new stadium in Oran, but eventually the match will be moved to July 5. Are you disappointed not to play for your Oran audience?

Oran is indeed my city. But playing this game on July 5 is also a good thing. Our team likes to develop on large fields. To be fair, our goal in this match against Uganda is to win with art and way to put a smile on our supporters. It therefore makes little difference where we receive our adversaries; whether in Oran, Algiers or any other city in the country, the important thing is to resume with the same dynamism for our failures at the CAN and qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

A success will have positive consequences for a group marked by recent failures, right?

Absolute ! As I just said, playing on a big field is an advantage for technical players like us. For this first game against Uganda and the next in Tanzania (June 8), we have to do the maximum to win. We know very well that a win will be a kind of trigger for our team to regain all its verve and its desire to win everything, as it did not so long ago.

The good news for NL, especially for you, is that Djamel Belmadi has decided to stay; your feeling?

Although I resumed competition with Brest, I admit I was disgusted, I saw the future of our roster even darker. But the day Djamel Belmadi announced that he was continuing with the national team, it was a kind of redemption for me. And suddenly I regained my morale and the joy of training. Djamel Belmadi is doing a great job in the national team, he is someone very attached to his country. He sometimes performs tasks that are not his own, just to pull the AND up. We know what he represents to the Algerians who revere him. Now that we are in a transition phase, all Algerians will have to support him. We must realize that Algeria cannot do without the skills of Djamel Belmadi, who also loves Algeria more than any other; no one can take this credit from him.

Your last outings with Stade Brestois 29 were convincing compared to your beginnings, which were complicated; we noticed that you have increased in power during the matches …

When I got to Brest, I wasn’t at the top physically. Besides, everything has changed. We train in the morning unlike in Qatar where the sessions took place in the evening. After my adjustment, I started to show my true qualities. I must remember that my goal when signing in Brest was to show those who said that Belaïli is not made to play in Europe. For me, it was a challenge that I had to take on to show these people that they were wrong about me. Thank God I’ve worked hard to get to this level, as my last seven matches testify, which I think are good, and it’s not over (laughs).

You made financial sacrifices to be able to play in France again…

Compared to what I could have earned by signing for another club in the Gulf, I made a huge sacrifice. As I said, to prove to my opponents that I can also play more comfortably in France, this choice has been reinforced by my recent appearances in L1.

In your comments you are targeting SCO Angers…

Yes, why hide it, this club hurt me a lot. While I was working hard, they refused to give me a chance to play. It happens to all Algerians, but I did not accept their criticism. After I left the club, they (the Angevin officials) were wrong. Over time, I showed them on the field that they were wrong in their judgment.

Is it revenge you take on your opponents?

Absolutely, it will teach them that you should never speak ill of a person for whose misfortune you are responsible. I will never forget what I experienced in Angers.

Let’s go back to your beginnings in Brest, looks like Haris Belkebla took good care of you…

I will never forget what Haris has done for me. He cared about me from day one. Belkebla is a very good person, besides he loves Algeria very much. His presence by my side in the early days was a precious support to me that no one in Brest knew. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his availability and assistance.

Your admirers think your place in a club is of a different dimension from Brest, do you agree?

We can’t skip the stages, when I signed in Brest my goal was to show myself in L1. I believe I succeeded. Yes, why not play in a team of a different standard, although Brest will be given priority. We are currently in negotiations to sign a new contract. As they say in football, you never know what the future holds.

What is certain, you will stay in France…

In my head it is decided, I want to continue playing in France, there is no discussion about that.

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