Be careful, hostile terrain. Saturday January 20, Algeria will have to defeat Burkina Faso to preserve its chances of qualifying for the next round of the African Cup of Nations (CAN). Held in check by Angola (1-1), this 2nd day of the group stage is already proving crucial for the Fennecs. Especially since at the Bouaké stadium, the Etalons – first in the group after their victory against Mauritania (1-0) – will play almost at home, in particular because of the large Burkinabe diaspora present in the city.

In addition to the atmosphere, the team can count on its coach, Frenchman Hubert Velud, a connoisseur of African football. For almost fifteen years, the former Stade de Reims goalkeeper, 64, has coached clubs in Morocco (HUS Agadir, Difaâ El Jadida), Tunisia (Stade tunisien, Etoile sportif du Sahel) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (TP Mazembe).

In Ivory Coast, he participated in his first CAN, even though he had led Togo during the 2010 edition in Angola. But an attack by a rebel group targeting the Eperviers bus in the Cabinda enclave, leaving three dead and nine injured, pushed the Togolese federation to announce the withdrawal of its selection for the rest of the tournament. In December 2021, Hubert Velud was dismissed from his position at the head of Sudan a few weeks before the CAN in Cameroon, when he had qualified the Nile Crocodiles.

The Frenchman is also a fine connoisseur of Algerian football. It was there that he had some great victories and was able to make himself appreciated on the continent by winning the Algerian championship twice in a row, with Sétif (in 2013, he did the double in winning the Cup) and USMA (in 2014). He also supervised the Constantinois Sports Club and JS Kabylie. “It’s the country that allowed me to really make myself known in Africa thanks to these titles, and I therefore necessarily have a special relationship with Algeria,” insists Hubert Velud, who says he is in love with this country. .

Twenty-third match between Algeria and Burkina Faso

Moreover, in his technical team, the Frenchman surrounded himself with two Algerians (the assistant coach and the physical trainer). So obviously, the match against the Fennecs is “special, full of emotions, because I spent very strong moments in Algeria, where the passion for football is immense”. And hopes that his former player, Youcef Belaïli, pillar of the team that he “saw the birth of football” when he coached the USMA, “will not be too mean to me”.

The player Amir Karaoui keeps a specific memory of his former coach in Sétif. “He quickly adapted to the club, to the city. He is a man open to dialogue, with a solid sense of humor. He made us work a lot, but could be very tough, and his deep voice helped him get his messages across, smiles the former Algerian international (a selection). With him, we can have a real argument and go have a coffee afterwards. Relations are frank and direct. »

It is also in this North African country that Hubert Velud faced popular and media pressure without ever taking umbrage. “We know, people want immediate results, we have to deal with it, and I have always left on good terms with my managers,” underlines the Frenchman who is regularly contacted by Algerian clubs and does not rule out “reworking a day in Algeria. »

For the 23rd match in history between Algeria and Burkina Faso, Hubert Velud shares with Djamel Belmadi, the coach of the Greens, the same taste for offensive football. This is the first confrontation between these two technicians. For the record, when Mr. Velud was coaching Paris FC (1992-1999), he tried to obtain a loan from Mr. Belmadi then lacking playing time at Paris-Saint-Germain, his training club. A request that the Parisian management had refused.

“Make your team win by making it play well”

Thus, against Burkina Faso, the Fennecs hope to find their game in motion. This is one of the coach’s wishes. Born in France, former Algerian international Djamel Belmadi (47), who played in Marseille and Valenciennes, began his coaching career in Qatar, where he managed Lekhwiya, Al-Duhail and the national team. Less than a year after his appointment on the Fennecs sidelines, Djamel Belmadi led Algeria to the continental title in July 2019 during the CAN organized in Egypt. “This allows him to be very popular with supporters, but more untouchable,” explains journalist Naïm Bennedra, editor-in-chief of the French edition of

The technician, who maintains complicated relations with the Algerian press, has been the subject of criticism since the setbacks of the first half of 2022. Indeed, Algeria was first eliminated in the first round of the CAN in Cameroon, then by Cameroon (him again) in qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar. “He was criticized for not questioning himself enough, for trusting certain 2019 winners too much,” continues Naïm Beneddra.

“He is very strict on discipline, but also close to the players, with whom he is always fair and honest. And that’s why they adhere to his method. He is also a real enthusiast, who has a very great football culture”, underlines the former Moroccan international Abdeslam Ouaddou who was, in quick succession, his teammate at Valenciennes, his player at Lekhwiya before joining, for a few months in 2020, the technical staff of the Algerian selection. “Djamel Belmadi is very attached to Algeria, which he dreams of qualifying for the World Cup,” he adds while emphasizing the technician’s desire to make his team win while making it play well. »