Alcaraz was named by the Algerian Federation only three days after he was dismissed by La Liga side Granada, who he left in 19th place in the Spanish top flight following a 3-1 defeat by Valencia on Sunday.
The 50-year-old was replaced by Arsenal legend Tony Adams at Los Carmenes, and has immediately ended his 20-year coaching career in Spanish football to join Algeria—one of Africa’s top sides.
Alcaraz has previously managed the likes of Levante, Almeria and Cordoba, and had been in his third spell with hometown club Granada before his dismissal.
His appointment comes as a surprise, particularly after Algeria have been linked to either Aitor Karanka following his sacking by Middlebrough or Spanish coach Joaquin Caparros.
The North African heavyweights have been without a coach since Belgian Leekens left his post following a miserable Afcon showing, where they were eliminated from a group containing Zimbabwe, Senegal and Tunisia after taking just two points from their three matches.
New federation chief Khereddine Zetchi will be hoping that the new man can bring some stability to the post, with Algeria having had three previous coaches in the last 13 months.
Frenchman Christian Gourcuff left his post in April, but the Desert Warriors’ decision to turn to Serbian Milovan Rajevac didn’t pay off when he quit after two matches, after his relationship with the squad broke down.
Leekens was unable to forge a cohesive unit from their talented collection of players, and he leaves Algeria in jeopardy of missing out on next year’s World Cup—they currently sit bottom of World Cup qualifying Group B, five points off leaders Nigeria.
Alcaraz will be expected to guide Algeria to the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon, although they will have to negotiate a qualifying group containing Benin, Togo and the Gambia.