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World Cup 2010: Algeria Profile

Coach: Rabah Sadane
Confederation: CAF
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10): 31
Previous Appearances: 2 (1982, 1986)

BACKGROUND
Next summer, Algeria will take part in the third World cup in their history. The ambition must be to improve. In 1982 and 1986 the Fennecs enjoyed consecutive qualifications, but left after the first round. Still, these were not journies without honour: in Spain '82, Algeria pulled off a shock by beating West Germany 2-1, a memorable success acquired thanks to goals of Madjer and Belloumi.

Then followed controversy: the Germans went on to face Austria, and with Algeria having already met Chile in the final day of the group stage, it was known that a 1-0 or 2-0 win to Germany would see both the Mannschaft and their neighbours through. Inevitably, it was a 1-0 win for West Germany in a game that could barely have been called a contest. Even fans of both countries involved were disgusted, but Algeria went home nonetheless.

Four years later in Mexico, Algeria struggled. Disturbed by internal conflicts, they took only one point out of a possible six, thanks to an unspectacular draw against Northern Ireland. 

How They Qualified

Algeria's path to the finals was perhaps the longest and hardest of all, but Saadane’s band negotiated it successfully. The Greens began with difficulty, losing two of the three of their first matches at in the first round against Senegal (0-1) and Gambia (0-1), but nonetheless made it to the second round. The unfancied Algerians were within minutes of qualifying, only for Egypt to score a goal that forced a play-off in Sudan. There Antar Yahia scored the only goal of this match, plunging a whole nation in an indescribable hysteria, and leaving much bad blood between Algerians and Egyptians.

Strengths
If Algeria succeeded in making their return on the scene world, it is mainly thanks to the freshness and the discipline of their young squad. In the past, the Fennecs had often disappointed by their lack of consistency and professionalism, but this time things are different. During qualification,, one could note the extent of this transfiguration. More solid, more homogeneous and also and especially more interdependent, Ziani and his partners became irresistible at times. The Egyptians, champions of the continent, can testify to that. Algeria win and lose as a professional team.

Weaknessses
If there's one weakness you don't want at a World Cup, it's an inability to travel. Sadly, that's exactly what Algeria suffer from. Indeed, since 2003, Algeria have won a mere two away games. Even if the World cup takes place on a neutral ground, the Fennecs must be absolutely stripped of the complex which sees them struggle the moment their plane leaves the tarmac.

In addition, this squad doesn’t have a true striker yet. Ghezzal can't quite reach his potential, Djebbour is not viewed as world-class, and Saifi is starting to grow old. This is a problem that coach Saadane must quickly regulate if he wants that his team suitably represent the Arab world in the World Cup.

THE COACH
There can only be one: Rabah Sadaane. The indefatigable 63-year-old has been involved in all of Algeria's post-independence campaigns. In 1982, he was assistant of Mahieddine Khalef; four years later he was alone at this station. He was even already present in 1980 when Algeria entered the Olympic football tournament. A native of Batna, Saadane has unmatchable experience, and it is logical that the Federation calls upon his services at their most important hour.But he's not just a local: abroad he's bossed Rajah Casablanca towards the African championship, ES Sahel, and also the Yemen national team.

Star Men

Antar Yahia (VfL Bochum)


Although a native of Mulhouse in France, this player is of Algerian blood, and it shows in his determination. He has 40 capes and 5 goals for his squad. A defender of great quality, although he never quite hit the heights in the club game.

Karim Ziani (VfL Wolfsburg)


The most well-known Algerian playing today, and deservedly so. A well-traveled player in the French leagues, Ziani hit it big with Marseille before joining Wolfsburg. Having played for the Fennecs since he was 20 years of age, over four fifths of his country's goals see him involved some way or another.

Rafik Saifi (Al Khor, Qatar)


At 34 years old, Saifi is the veteran - it's not for nothing that he's known as "big brother" to the rest. A late bloomer on the international scene, Saifi's experience in Ligue 1 is invaluable, even if he doesn't have the pace that he once did.

 
Best Footballing Moment

Ask a group of Algerians this question. The answer will be unanimous: the win against West Germany in 1982. Debutants against World Cup holders it may well have been, but a fantastic performance from the fine old quartet of Assad, Belloumi, Madjer and Fergani saw predictions thrown out the window. Not until Senegal met France did Africa topple a champion in such a surprising fashion.

OFF THE PITCH
Famous For: Algeria is famous for being the second larger country of Africa in terms of area. Algerians are also cosmopolitan: fans of the country dwell all over the world and were seen celebrating from London to Los Angeles after the win in Sudan.

Most likely to: Pick up a microphone and sing! During qualification, a vocal group from Algeria entitled 'Torino & Milano' released a string of singles about the national side, all of which sold like hot cakes. (Let's hope the Algerians aren't drawn against Italy...)

World Cup Objective

For Algeria, to have reached the World Cup is already an enormous bonus. Thus, it’s without any pressure that the Fennecs will go to South Africa. Their mission will be to give pleasure to the fans, and try to honour the national colors as well as possible. Afterwards, if there is possibility of crossing a round or two, Ziani and his partners certainly will not deprive themselves.