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Algeria launch official AFCON complaint over ‘imperfect’ VAR

The Algerian Football Federation (FAF) have lodged an official complaint with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to complain about the performance of the Video Assistant Referee during Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations draw with Burkina Faso on Saturday.

Several refereeing calls went against the North Africans in the 2-2 draw between the two Group D teams, with Algeria only salvaging a second consecutive draw when Baghdad Bounedjah scored a 95th-minute equaliser.

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Algeria were particularly unimpressed with the actions taken (or not taken) by VAR official Pierre Ghislain Atcho, whose showing in the Fennecs’ opening group game — a 1-1 draw with Angola — had already come under scrutiny.

“While welcoming the efforts made to raise the level of organisation at the continental event,” began a FAF statement sent to ESPN, “the Algerian Football Federation regrets the imperfections noted [in the provision of refereeing].

“FAF do not understand why the CAF Refereeing Commission appointed the same VAR referee as in the first match, which raises legitimate questions about the inappropriateness of such an appointment, especially as some actions disputed during the match were not noted by the VAR officials, such as the fouls committed on our players in the 10th and 57th minutes.”

In the first incident, striker Bounedjah was bundled down by Burkinabe defender Edmond Tapsoba, while just before the hour mark Issoufou Dayo also appeared to handle in the box, with no penalty forthcoming for Algeria.

There was VAR intervention during the contest, but not in Algeria’s favour. The referee was called to review an offside call in Burkina Faso’s opening goal, which was awarded to the West Africans, and to validate a penalty for Burkina Faso in the 66th minute.

Algeria also conceded a penalty during their opening draw against Angola, while Bounedjah had an overhead kick ruled out following a VAR consultation.

“FAF’s complaint is based on verifiable facts to which the responsible referees must respond,” the statement continued. “Through this complaint, the Algerian Federation hope for intervention so that the arbitration is of a better level and up to [what is expected] from a prestigious continental competition.”

In his post-match news conference, Algeria head coach Djamel Belmadi also outlined his discontent with the officiating.

“Regarding the refereeing, it seems that a handball in the box in our favour was not reported,” he began, referring to Adam Ounas’ 86th-minute cross connecting with Steeve Yago’s hand. “It’s important in a match like this [to see it], and I hope this message has been heard.”

The draw leaves two-time champions Algeria third in Group D, with two points after two matches, ahead of their final group game against point-less Mauritania on Tuesday.

Angola and Burkina Faso, both on four points, conclude their first round campaign in Yamoussoukro.

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