Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has refused to discuss a remarkable incident where defender Ramy Bensebaini used an opponent’s arm to hit himself in the face during their match against Ivory Coast.
Bensebaini can be seen in a video of the incident grabbing Wilfried Zaha’s arm and then slapping himself in the face with the Ivorian’s hand before falling theatrically to the ground, clutching his head.
Both players had already been booked in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final but the referee appeared to miss the incident altogether and no free kick was given to either side.
Algeria, who beat Cote d’Ivoire on penalties, face Nigeria in their semi-final on Sunday and, when asked about the incident in a pre-match news confidence, Belmadi said it was the wrong place to talk about it.
“I’m not really sure this is the place to talk about this,” he said, to applause from Algerian journalists.
“If you try to put pressure on us, it is not the right way. There is a referee for that and VAR for that and it’s not your job to talk about this.”
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr played down the incident.
“We didn’t see that,” he said “We watched the tactical situations of the match, we continue to analyse the tactical things. If you watch each match, you can find incidents which are not so nice but that doesn’t interest us.
“What we have to see is how they play and what we can do to beat this team.”
Nigeria defender Kenneth Omeruo, meanwhile, said that gamesmanship was something all players were guilty of.
“We try to avoid committing fouls, especially around the box because we have conceded two goals from free kicks (in this tournament),” he said.