CAIRO, July 18 (Reuters) - Two coaches of the same age who grew up in the same Parisian suburb will clash on the touchline when their sides meet in the Africa Cup of Nations final on Friday.
Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi and his Senegalese counterpart Aliou Cisse were both raised in Champigny-sur-Marne around 12 kilometres to the south east of central Paris.
Both are 43 years old and were born one day apart in March 1976 — Belmadi in Champigny itself and Cisse, who moved there when he was nine, in the Senegalese town of Ziguinchor.
They met after becoming professional footballers in France and, although they never played together, Belmadi said they got to know each other well.
Both played for their respective countries at around the same time with Belmadi winning 20 caps for Algeria and Cisse playing for Senegal on the only previous occasion that they reached the AFCON final in 2002.
“I haven’t spoken to Cisse. We will not speak until after or just before the match,” Belmadi told reporters on Thursday. “It’s crazy to find him here at the final as we’re both from Champigny. I’m not sure that something like this has ever happened before.
“The only difference between us is that he’s been with his team for four years and I have been here for one.
“To play this final against Senegal against my friend is amazing. I hope the decision-makers can think more about this and trust our young coaches.”
Algeria are aiming to win AFCON for the second time, having been champions in 1990, and Senegal for the first.
Belmadi was indifferent when asked if he expected Egyptian fans would support his side — the two countries have a long and bitter football rivalry stretching back to a World Cup qualifier in 1989 when a brawl left the Egypt team doctor blinded in one eye.
“I don’t think this question is for me, it’s for the Egyptian people,” said Belmadi. “We will play in front of our fans and that’s good for us. If they want to join, that’s great, and if they want to support our opponents, as they’ve done so far, no problem.”
Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by Toby Davis