Algerian legend Rabah Madjer has sent resounding support for the organization of the biennial TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) organized solely for players that feature in the domestic leagues in their countries.
Madjer, who was named the African Player of the Year in 1987 and won the AFCON with Algeria in 1990 at home, has spoken out and backed the organization of the biennial competition that is only unique to Africa.
“CHAN is an important platform to discover new African stars who can go on to shine at various other big international tournaments. I wish there was a CHAN tournament in the 1970s and 1980s because of its usefulness,” Madjer said wishfully in an exclusive interview with CAFOnline.
“Football has developed. In yesteryears like in the 60s, 70s, and even the 90s, I wish there was an African championship organized for the local players for each local player to prove his level.”
“However, at that time the majority of the local players were active in the first team and as we saw, all Africans proved their prowess in international teams, and I can, for example, talk about our generation in Algeria, which proved its capabilities against international teams in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.”
Madjer, who competed at both World Cups, will always be remembered for his wonder goal against Germany which was Algeria’s first ever goal at a World Cup and that it orchestrated the famous 2-1 win to become the first time an African team emerged victorious at a World Cup.
“Things have changed since then but what I have seen now is that so far, the seventh edition of the CHAN has been successful so far. I hope that this competition will continue its success after the edition in Algeria and in other African countries.”
“This is because it encourages the local players and gives them a chance to make it to the first team. It is a good process and why not find an opportunity to become a professional in European clubs,” he asked in deep thought.
CHAN was launched in 2009 with the first edition hosted in Côte d’Ivoire to provide an opportunity to locally based players to represent their countries, especially national teams that have most players featuring outside the continent.
Madjer applauded the great interest that CAF Dr. Patrice Motsepe has for the locally based players, “It is necessary to give importance and capabilities to local players. We saw his presence in Algeria with the FIFA President, and this proves that they want to give a big role to the local player in the future. Big.”
“CAF and its president are very interested in the local players. We are proud as a country to organize CHAN for the first time. We see good organization so far and the beautiful stadiums, especially the opening ceremony.”
“It was wonderful. It was an extraordinary party. It was like a World Cup party. This is a good thing and regarding the level of the matches, it is so far incredible and we hope that the level will continue to get better in the rest of the matches. I welcome all my fellow Africans who are in Algeria and may the best team be crowned with the championship title.”
Meanwhile, Madjer who coached Algeria for two stints said, “I am one of the people who encourages the local players and when I coached the Algerian national team, I gave many opportunities to the local players.”
“Africa has always produced great players including Abedi Pele, George Weah, Okocha, Drogba, Eto’o to mention but a few. They have done super well and God willing, we shall see other players coming out of Africa and becoming like them.”
African players are doing an incredible job in great clubs at the highest level in Spain and Germany. We can see that things are good.”
“The fact is that the performance of African players is great in Europe, and they always do wonders for their national teams upon their return. We have seen how the players of Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal performed at the World Cup in Qatar. We also wanted to see the Egyptian and Algerian teams in this World Cup but unfortunately fate had another opinion and I hope that the strong teams will return to represent Africa well in the future.”
The former Porto star, who won the Primeira Liga three times as well as famously led the Portuguese giants to becoming European champions thanks to his famous goal against Bayern Munich in the European Clubs Cup final in 1987, reminisces on the good old days.
“I am very proud, and thank God, for presenting me with an amazing career especially when I scored in the European Clubs Cup final against Bayern Munich where after 36 years, everyone still mentions the phrase “the Madjer goal” when any player scores with the back heel. When I was a player, I was proud as an Algerian as well as an African.”
The Algerian and African football legend concluded his speech by emphasizing that it is too early to nominate one team over another to win the CHAN title, “It is still too early to nominate a team to make a statement about the matter. Football is like this, it has surprises, and when we reach the quarterfinals of the competition, we can evaluate and nominate one of the teams.”
Algeria is hosting the seventh edition of the TotalEnergies CHAN 2022 in four cities including Algiers, Annaba, Constantine and Oran.