Algeria and Tunisia played head to head in an intense yet thrilling FIFA Arab Cup final.
Algerian footballer Hocine Benayada apologised to his Tunisian counterpart and Manchester United player Hannibal Mejbri after a physical altercation erupted on the pitch during the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 final match on Saturday.
Benayada was seen choking Hannibal as tensions ignited between the two teams at the heated match on Saturday.
Algeria and Tunisia went head to head in front of some 60,000 fans at Al Bayt Stadium in the final game of the mega tournament.
Benayada was not penalised on the pitch as the heated moment was believed to have taken place out of the sight of the referee or the assistant referee.
While the incident sparked controversy online, Benayada later posted a picture with Hannibal in a “story” on his Instagram account with a caption saying “my brother”.
Angry Tunisian fans launched a campaign against the Algerian player, many of whom demanding Tunisia’s Étoile Sportive du Sahel Club to drop Benayada for his actions.
“It happens that we get excited during the match due to the intense competition and the desire to win, but the most important thing is that things do not get out of control, and after the end of the match we shook hands and it ended in this way, we are brothers before and after the match,” he said in a televised interview on Al Araby TV.
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Algeria was declared the winner of the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 after a striking performance against Tunisia that ended with a 2-0 result.