AFCON 2022: Algeria undefeated matches streak in question per official FIFA records

When Algeria took the field at the 2022 African Cup of Nations, the team had the impression that it was within reach to set a new international soccer record at the event.

But according to official FIFA statistics, that’s not necessarily the case.

The longest undefeated streak of the national team currently stands at 37 games, recently established by a team from Italy that went three years without losing from 2018 to 2021. Based on their tally, the Algerian federation claims their unbeaten streak is 35 matches later. 0-0 against Sierra Leone, just three short of setting a new record as it continues its involvement in AFCON.

Not so fast. When contacted by Sporting News prior to Algeria’s first AFCON 2022 match, FIFA confirmed that Algeria has 24 matches (now 25 matches after AFCON’s initial draw against Sierra Leone). What is in game? There seems to be a discrepancy around 3-0 defeat to Morocco on October 19, 2019 that the Algerian federation does not take into account his streak calculations. Except FIFA is not choosing to turn a blind eye for now.

Algeria’s undefeated streak: 25 or 35 games?

The October 2019 loss to Morocco is the only stain attributed to Algeria in more than three years of action since a distant 1-0 loss to Benin in an AFCON qualifying game in October 2018. But the Algerian federation did not counts it for the first senior team record.

That is because Morocco’s defeat came in a competition called the African Championship of Nations, popularly known as CHAN, which should not be confused with the African Cup of Nations, and CHAN is a tournament that is restricted exclusively to players exercising their office at the national level. Leagues from each participating country (for example, Algerian players who play in the Algerian league). In fact, the Fennec Foxes also ruled out the 0-0 result of the first leg of that series against Morocco for the same reason: it did not have the entire Algerian team, including players residing abroad.

Similarly, Algeria does not count the six games played in the recently concluded 2021 FIFA Arab Cup in December since sending a secondary team to that tournament; the best clubs in the world were not required to release players for the event. Algeria still won the Arab Cup and did not lose a match (4G-0E-2E). And while those six games would help reinforce their unbeaten streak, Algeria will not include them because they did not have their first team. The Fennec Foxes didn’t even send their regular head coach, Djamel Belmadi, to manage that team.

But FIFA confirmed to Sporting News that their tally is different, pointing to the loss to Morocco. FIFA does not rule out the results of CHAN or the FIFA Arab Cup, especially since the latter was a FIFA tournament.

The following table with the parties in Algeria illustrates how the two organizations do not fully agree on the count (the asterisks indicate the parties in the center of the discrepancy):

Date Adversary Result Competence Unbeaten streak
(Algerian count)
Unbeaten streak
(FIFA count)
Oct 16, 2018 in benin 0-1 (Loss) AFCON qualifier 0 0
November 18, 2018 in Togo 4-1 (win) AFCON qualifier one one
Dec 27, 2018 in Qatar 1-0 (win) Sympathetic two two
March 22, 2019 against Gambia 1-1 (tie) AFCON qualifier 3 3
March 26, 2019 against Tunisia 1-0 (win) Sympathetic 4 4
June 11, 2019 against Burundi 1-1 (tie) Sympathetic 5 5
June 16, 2019 against Mali 3-2 (win) Sympathetic 6 6
June 23, 2019 against kenya 2-0 (win) AFCON 2019 7 7
June 27, 2019 against senegal 1-0 (win) AFCON 2019 8 8
Jul 1, 2019 against tanzania 3-0 (win) AFCON 2019 9 9
Jul 7, 2019 against guinea 3-0 (win) AFCON 2019 10 10
Jul 11, 2019 against Ivory Coast 1-1 (tie) AFCON 2019 eleven eleven
Jul 14, 2019 against nigeria 2-1 (win) AFCON 2019 12 12
July 19, 2019 against senegal 1-0 (win) AFCON 2019 13 13
Sep 9, 2019 against benin 1-0 (win) Sympathetic 14 14
Sep 21, 2019 against Morocco 0-0 (tie) CHAN qualifier 14 * fifteen
Oct 10, 2019 against DR Congo 1-1 (tie) Sympathetic fifteen sixteen
Oct 15, 2019 against Colombia 3-0 (win) Sympathetic sixteen 17
October 19, 2019 in Morocco 0-3 (Loss) CHAN qualifier sixteen* 0
Nov 14, 2019 against zambia 5-0 (win) AFCON qualifier 17 one
November 18, 2019 in Botswana 1-0 (win) AFCON qualifier 18 two
October 9, 2020 against nigeria 1-0 (win) Sympathetic 19 3
October 13, 2020 against mexico 2-2 (tie) Sympathetic twenty 4
November 12, 2020 against Zimbabwe 3-1 (win) AFCON qualifier twenty-one 5
November 16, 2020 in Zimbabwe 2-2 (tie) AFCON qualifier 22 6
March 25, 2021 in zambia 3-3 (tie) AFCON qualifier 23 7
March 29, 2021 against Botswana 5-0 (win) AFCON qualifier 24 8
June 3, 2021 against Mauritania 4-1 (win) Sympathetic 25 9
June 6, 2021 against Mali 1-0 (win) Sympathetic 26 10
June 11, 2021 in Tunisia 2-0 (win) Sympathetic 27 eleven
June 17, 2021 against Liberia 5-1 (win) Sympathetic 27 * eleven*
September 2, 2021 against Djibouti 8-0 (win) World Cup classification. 28 12
September 7, 2021 in Burkina Faso 1-1 (tie) World Cup classification. 29 13
October 8, 2021 against Niger 6-1 (win) World Cup classification. 30 14
October 12, 2021 in niger 4-0 (win) World Cup classification. 31 fifteen
November 12, 2021 in Djibouti 4-0 (win) World Cup classification. 32 sixteen
November 16, 2021 against Burkina Faso 2-2 (tie) World Cup classification. 33 17
December 1, 2021 against Sudan 4-0 (win) Arab Cup 2021 33 * 18
December 4, 2021 against lebanon 2-0 (win) Arab Cup 2021 33 * 19
December 7, 2021 against Egypt 1-1 (tie) Arab Cup 2021 33 * twenty
December 11, 2021 against Morocco 2-2 (tie) Arab Cup 2021 33 * twenty-one
December 15, 2021 against Qatar 2-1 (win) Arab Cup 2021 33 * 22
December 18, 2021 against Tunisia 2-0 (win) Arab Cup 2021 33 * 23
January 5, 2022 against Ghana 3-0 (win) Sympathetic 3. 4 24
January 11, 2022 against Sierra Leone 0-0 (tie) AFCON 2022 35 25

The only match that FIFA and Algeria agree to exclude is the June 2021 friendly against Liberia, which, like the FIFA Arab Cup and the matches against Morocco, featured a secondary team of players and the assistant coach as head coach.

This is what the Algerian federation calls its A ‘team, which is different from its A team (without apostrophe). The two teams have different sections on the official site, a sign that the federation treats them as two different squads.

Algeria was drawn in an AFCON 2022 pool with Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, and based on Algeria’s numbers, it would theoretically need only two more positive results to tie Italy’s record. A draw or a victory in the round of 16 could see them break the record.

Argentina seeks unbeaten record record

Argentina is also on an undefeated streak of its own that includes Lionel Messi’s first major international trophy with the 2021 Copa América conquest. Lionel Scaloni’s men are currently in 27 matches and counting without savoring defeat.

Barring more matches added, Argentina has four more South American World Cup qualifiers ahead of it, which could see it match its own all-time undefeated streak of the national team (31) if it can maintain an unblemished record through the meeting against Ecuador on March 29. He will need several more games to catch up with Italy.

Argentina has already secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup with four games to play. (The Brazil vs. Argentina qualifier was suspended after 10 minutes by the local health authorities and has not been rescheduled).

Longest unbeaten streaks in international football

So Italy is still at the top of this list for now, but it is possible that Argentina and eventually Algeria could top it. It is remarkable to see three nations achieve these extended periods of success at virtually the same time. History has shown that this is not a common occurrence.

The list of the longest undefeated streaks in world soccer includes some of the world’s great soccer nations, with both European and South American powerhouses.

By his own estimation, the defending 2019 AFCON champion Algeria broke into this elite company, though it remains to be seen if the global bodies will see it the same way.

Country Games
The streak started Streak ended Finished by
Italy 37 (30-0-7) Oct 10, 2018 October 6, 2021 Spain
Algeria 35 (26-0-9) November 18, 2018
Spain 35 (32-0-3) February 7, 2007 June 24, 2009 U.S
Brazil 35 (28-0-7) December 16, 1993 January 21, 1996 Mexico
Argentina 31 (21-0-10) February 20, 1991 August 15, 1993 Colombia
France 30 (22-0-8) February 16, 1994 June 26, 1996 Czech Republic
Italy 30 (24-0-6) November 24, 1935 November 12, 1939 Swiss
Argentina 27 (18-0-9) Jul 2, 2019

The issue of which games count and which don’t come up in the case of other teams.

Italy’s record streak in the 1930s, which lasted for more than 50 years, ruled out a match it was losing to Austria 2-0 before it was abandoned due to crowd problems.

What is controversial about Brazil’s streak (1993-96) is that many argue that the streak-breaking loss to Mexico should not have counted, as it came in the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, practically It was a Brazilian Under-23 team preparing to play in the Olympics.

Taking away the three wins and one loss that Brazil suffered in that 1996 Gold Cup, Brazil would have gone 40 games undefeated before their next full team loss. But since FIFA officially counted those Gold Cup matches for the FIFA rankings, the loss to Mexico could not be ruled out.

The case of Brazil did not hold. We will see if Algeria can convince the registrars this time.