The cries and encouragement from the many supporters of Algeria at the Delort stadium in Marseille on Wednesday afternoon were not enough. Despite his courage, his determination and the domination of his pack, the fifteen of the Two Lions ended up losing by nothing against Kenya, in the semi-finals of the Rugby Africa Cup (36-33). The Kenyans were a little more realistic near the scoring area.
The Algerians will therefore not participate in the World Cup in France in 2023, missing what would have been a great first in their young rugby history. The disappointment is great, inevitably, but the North African selection can at least boast of clear progress which will certainly make it a credible candidate for qualification in the next editions.
Despite a good start to the match for the Algerians
Everything had however started like a dream for the 82nd country in the IRB ranking. After six minutes of play, he was already leading 7-0 after a magnificent action which saw the ball circulating from right to left, then from left to right, going from three-quarters to forwards, then from forwards to three-quarters, sometimes at the cost of magnificent passes with one hand on contact, to finally finish behind the line thanks to third-line Marvin Youcef. But Kenya came back for the first time thanks to center John Okeyo (7-7, 12th).
No big deal, Algeria returned to the charge to win the opposing defense on a ball model carried after touch concluded by the hooker Issam Hamel (14-7, 16th). And then, the match turned when we least expected it, when the North Africans had once again invested the Kenyan camp. On a crazy action initiated by a daring long touch by the Simbas in their own 22 meters. On recovery, the third-line Bethwel Muteshi burst the Algerian curtain in the middle before sinking full field and kicking a ball to follow at the foot for his center Okeyo, faster than everyone to go and register his second try of the match (14-14, 19th). A superb 100-meter test, in the pure tradition of these Kenyan players, most of whom are fed up with 7-a-side rugby.
Five tries on each side
The meeting then changed in appearance, with a more dominant and enterprising Kenya which ended up concretizing its highlights four minutes from half-time on a try from its back and striker Darwin Kinyangi (14-21, 36th).
Stung, the Algerians came back stronger after the break and were quick to equalize on a copy-paste of their second try on the ball carried. More powerful, they once again propelled their No. 2 Hamel behind the line (21-21, 45th). Behind, when we began to believe that this game would be reduced to a festival of art and essays, Kenya quickly regained the advantage on a penalty from Jone Kubu Tavaga, who had just entered the game (21-24, 48th). It will not be resumed, even if the outcome of the meeting was undecided until the end. Kenya scored two more tries through Eugène Wesonga Sihuna (52nd) and Bryceson Agesa Adaka (60th), but like Algeria did the same thanks to Nadir Megdoud (58) and a penalty try following a total grip in closed scrum (69th), only three points separated the two teams at the start of the last ten minutes (33-36).
Sunday evening final
Exhausted, they then left everything on the ground, but nothing will be marked. It is Kenya who will therefore face Namibia or Zimbabwe (who face each other this Wednesday evening), Sunday evening, in the final in Aix-en-Provence (9 p.m.). The winner will qualify directly for the next World Cup, where he will be transferred to the France group.