Georges Leekens
Georges Leekens

Algeria coach Georges Leekens  claims the Desert Foxes  were robbed by Gambian referee Bakary Gassama  against  the Super Eagles in their Russia 2018 World Cup Group B qualifier in Uyo on Saturday.

Chelsea right wing-back Victor Moses struck a brace as Nigeria  beat Algeria 3-1  to pick up their second  win in the  World Cup qualifiers and open up a four-point lead at the top of the table – after Cameroon were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Zambia in the group’s other fixture.

The North Africans, who have just a point after two games, are left with a mountain to climb to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the World Cup for the  fifth  time, having played in the tournament in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014.

And the Greens’ Belgian manager Leekens, who vowed  the 1990 African champions would strive to get their  qualification hopes back on track,  believes the result of the Uyo encounter could have been different had the referee not accepted Nigeria’s second goal from Mikel Obi  when the score  was 1-0.

Mikel, who is out of favour at Chelsea,  fired in from close range   three minutes before  half time  after receiving a through-ball from Oghenekaro Etebo  with the Algeria defence attempting keep him  offside.

“Nigeria’s second goal is not valid. There was indeed an offside position,” the 67-year-old former Belgium manager was quoted as saying by the influential Algerian newspaper Le Buteur on Sunday.

“The  goal somewhat disorganised  my players,  especially before the break. If the score had  remained 1-0, we would have returned in the second half.”

Lekeens says he is disappointed his team did not take their chances in the clash, lamenting a lack of killer instinct among his forwards.

He said, “When you play at this level, you do not allow yourself to miss many good  opportunities in front of  goal. We missed no fewer than four  chances. In a match like this and against an opponent like Nigeria, it was necessary to have a better efficiency. “

The former Lokeren manager refused to blame his team’s defeat on injuries to key players ahead of the fixture.

Leekens added, “Let us also not forget that we played a quality Nigerian  team. We found it difficult against them. This is what explains the result.”

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