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How the boiling stadium of Blida became an impenetrable stronghold for foxes

Algeria is preparing to host Cameroon, Tuesday (9:30 pm), in the second leg of the 2022 World Cup. A shock is scheduled at the Mustapha Tchaker Stadium in Blida, fifty kilometers south of Algiers. A 35,000-seat container famous for its volcanic atmosphere, in which foxes have never been lost.

Wadi Mitja is famous for its vineyards and fruit trees. But for fifteen years, this vast plain in northern Algeria was also a temple of football. At the level of the state of Blida. There, at the foot of the green mountains of the Atlas Bledan, the Mustafa-Chakir stadium was opened in the winter of 2001. About fifty kilometers southwest of the capital. Two decades later, it has become an impenetrable stronghold for foxes…

The glowing setting now accompanies the successes of the national team and its seething fans. Since their debut in 2002 against the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2-2), Algeria have not lost in Blida, with 36 wins (including 23 clean sheets) and 7 draws in 43 matches (118 goals, 22 goals). With several legendary evenings against Senegal (3-2 in 2008), Egypt (3-1 in 2009) or Burkina Faso (1-0 in 2013).

“The stadium is small, but it deserves a molten velodrome”

After traveling so long between Algiers, Oran, Constantine or Annaba, the choice has forged a special relationship with this tiny 35,000-seat stadium, its main stands and curves cut into five blocks. To the point of not wanting to leave him. Jamal Belmadi’s supporters also requested that they play the second leg of the 2022 World Cup there, this Tuesday against Cameroon (9:30 pm). “The players love to play in Blida. They feel good there, they have their orientation. They are the ones who insisted on playing here,” the coach stated at a press conference, three days after winning in Douala during the first leg (0-1 goal by Islam Slimani).

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It must be said that the enthusiasm is unparalleled within the walls of the “City of Roses”, and that the Algerian team has a timeshare with USM Blida (now in the third division). “The atmosphere is exceptional, it gives you goosebumps. It’s a bombonera,” Prime Video journalist Ismail Bouabdellah described. The stadium is small but it deserves a melted stadium during a big Serie A match. No spectators, just fans. Everyone sings. He’s no longer the second man Ten at that level, he’s the thirteenth man for sure!” “This stadium is a lucky charm for Algeria, supporting Ishak Chebli who works for DZ Foot. The atmosphere is really huge. I saw the matches there as a journalist, but also as a fan, c” It’s unbelievable. It’s hard to describe this atmosphere. You have to live it. It is a nice. “

Algerian fans
Algerian supporters © Icon

“You can take three hours to travel three kilometers.”

When the Algerian national team passes, the whole country gathers in Blida. Fans from all regions flock, sometimes several days before the match. Some sleep in front of the stadium so you don’t miss the ticket office opening. Endless and chaotic queues form along the roads. A hilarious mess that leads to its share of comedic scenes and transgressions. “When you enter Blida on match day, you have the impression that you are in a commando operation,” explains Mohamed Brahadji, who also works at DZ Foot. The city is square and full. There are people everywhere, many people without tickets. There are three kilometers to get to The city entrance to the stadium. You can take three hours to do it if you haven’t made your own arrangements!”

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In the face of this frenetic enthusiasm, the doors of Chaker Stadium open in the morning. The first fans take their places in the stands about ten hours before the match. It is not uncommon to see the stadium full at lunchtime. There were often more people inside than expected. “The fans sing every afternoon, waiting for the match to start,” Ismail Bouabdallah witnessed. Thanks to this massive support, players come to connect with their fans at the time of field survey. And when night falls, the fence turns into a volcano. With a red sea of ​​smoke in the stands. And Ishaq Shibli adds: “During the match, some fans set off fireworks in the streets around the stadium. And they celebrate outside.”

Opponents filming with their phones

Something to overtake foxes in the meadow. “It’s a fortress where Algeria has never lost. It motivates the players, that’s for sure. It also reassures them, even if they don’t hear anything in the grass,” smiles Ismael Bouadbalah. Visitors are also surprised. “When competitive players are on the field, they all take out their phones to create videos and stories and take photos,” says Isaac Shibli. “I spoke with many opponents of Algeria who came to Blida, they all said it was magic, this is confirmed by Mohamed Barahji. The stadium is in a tank surrounded by high peaks. The crowd is feverish. The enthusiasm is crazy. It really looks like a thug for the opposing team.”

After a hustle from Belmadi a few months ago, the once bumpy lawn has recently been rebuilt. She is now flawless. This puts Riyad Mahrez’s partners in perfect conditions when it comes to facing their destiny. Their last appearance ended in a draw with Burkina Faso last November (2-2). The result that would qualify them this time against Cameroon. But at Tchaker Ovens, the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations winners will seek to present a victory to the green and white people. To write a new page in the crazy story. before traveling to Qatar.

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