It's said that good things come to those who wait, and Yacine Brahimi has certainly waited a long time for his second goal at a FIFA tournament.
His first came during the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Algeria had built up an impressive 3-0 lead over Korea Republic, courtesy of goals from Islam Slimani, Abdelmoumene Djabou and Rafik Halliche, but conceded a goal to give hope to their Asian opponents.
Brahimi and Sofiane Feghouli had other plans, however, and after a neat one-two with his Algerian team-mate, Brahimi coolly slotted the ball past the Korean goalkeeper, scoring his team’s fourth goal of the match and his first at a World Cup.
Fast forward over seven years to today and the Paris-born midfielder was to be found scoring once again in a FIFA tournament, when he converted a penalty kick earned by Youcef Belaili in a hard-earned 2-0 win over Lebanon at the ongoing FIFA Arab Cup 2021™.
“Scoring at the World Cup and then at the Arab Cup makes me extremely happy,” Brahimi told FIFA.com. “I hope that’s not the end of me scoring here, as I’d love to get more goals.”
In contrast to their opening fixture against Sudan, Algeria struggled against the Lebanese, who were disciplined and organised at the back. The outsiders held out until the 69th minute, when the Les Fennecs (Desert Foxes) were finally able to break the deadlock.
“We were well aware that the match would be difficult, and that Lebanon tend to defend very well,” said Brahimi. “The problem was that we didn’t score early on. Had we done that, things might have been a bit easier, but the most important thing is that we won, and we’re delighted with that. They certainly made it very difficult for us; we knew that they would defend and rely on counter-attacks.”
Despite having trouble breaking down their opponents, the Algerians never gave up, and continued to alternate between attacking through the middle and via the wings. They missed several chances through Belaili, Baghdad Bounedjah and Hillal Soudani, before Belaili was fouled inside the box and the referee awarded the aforementioned penalty, which Brahimi put away in composed fashion.
“We kept plugging away; we were so close to scoring on more than one occasion,” explained the 31-year-old former Granada star. “Our team showed perseverance in building attacks, and we ultimately succeeded, which is what matters the most.”
With Algeria and Egypt having defeated Sudan and Lebanon, both nations have now sealed a spot in the quarter-finals. On Tuesday, the regional powerhouses will lock horns to determine who will go through in first place: the winners of Group D will avoid a tough-looking encounter with a formidable Morocco side in the knockout stage.
“It’s still a match against a strong team,” pointed out Brahimi. “We’ll get a bit of rest after the first two games, because we played those in a short space of time, which might have an impact on us physically.
“The Egypt game is in three days’ time, so we need to concentrate on recovery and then start preparing for that important match. We’ll go into it looking for a victory, because our goal is to win all of our games in Qatar, so we have to keep working hard and to remain focused on this tournament.”