FOX Soccer Exclusive
32 Teams in 32 Days: Algeria
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Nickname: Les Fennecs (The Desert Foxes)
Algeria is one of the great African nations, and closely tied to Europe. It’s also enormous; few folks realize that in terms of square mileage, this North African nation is the 11th largest on the planet. An OPEC nation, oil forms the backbone of the economy.
ALGERIAAlgeria Team Page
World Cup schedule
June 13: vs. Slovenia (Polokwane)
June 18: vs. England (Cape Town)
June 23: vs. United States (Pretoria)
Yazid Mansouri, Midfielder
Madjid Bougherra, Defender
Best WC result: 1982, 86 First Round
FIFA World Rank: 27
France arrived in 1830, sparking a long and sometimes brutal campaign of repression that some have estimated wiped out nearly one-third of the native population. The 1950s saw considerable unrest in the country -- dramatized famously in the 1966 film The Battle of Algiers -- and after fighting an eight-year guerilla campaign against France, Algeria won independence in 1962.
Nicknames notwithstanding, French is not the dominant language of the country. Most Algerians speak either Algerian Arabic or Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).
PAST WORLD CUP SUCCESS: Algeria has never made it out of the first round; their best spell was qualifying for two straight tournaments in 1982 and 1986. 1982 was a high-water mark: they stunned West Germany in the first group game, 2-1 and were narrowly edged out by Austria on goal difference. In 1986 they failed to win a game and finished at the bottom of their group. This is their third appearance.
REGIONAL SUCCESS: Unfortunately, the best years of Algerian football went by about 20 years ago. Then, Les Fennecs were kings of Africa, qualifying for the World Cup, and winning the African Nations Cup in 1990. They actually failed to qualify for that tournament in 2006 and 2008; they finished fourth in this year’s edition.
LEAGUE OVERVIEW: The Algerian Championnat National is a young league -- it was formed in 1962 right after the nation gained independence from France. It doesn’t have a lot of talent -- most of its better players travel to France’s Ligue One -- but a few clubs have made their mark in African play. JS Kabylie (also called Tizi-Ouzou, after the city in which the club is based) has been a perennial contender in the African Club Cups, most recently winning the CAF Club Cup in 2002. ES Setif was a finalist last year in the CAF Confederations Cup, and has also been a perennial power.
MANAGER: Rabah Saadane. The long-time, on and off manager of Algeria, Saadane has been involved with the national teams program since its heyday in the early 1980s. He played a few games for Rennes in Ligue One, but most of his playing experience came locally, and his coaching experience came with Tunisian giants Etoile Sportive Sahel and Morocco’s Raja Casablanca.
FIFA WORLD CUP
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- Sepp Blatter endorses winter World Cup
- FIFA looks at golden goal rule again
- AFC chief backs call for winter 2022 WC
- U.S. hoping for World Cup bid spark
PHOTOS AND VIDEO
FIFA RANKINGS: 27th. That’s just one place off their highest ever ranking of 26th (December 2009). Lowest ever was 103rd ... in only 2008.
FIRST ROUND OPPONENTS: England, Slovenia and the U.S.
HEAD TO HEAD AGAINST FIRST ROUND OPPONENTS: Algeria has never played against any of the teams they will face in South Africa.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED: Algeria stunned bitter rivals Egypt in a one-game playoff after both teams finished with identical records in Group C of African qualifying. Antar Yahia scored Algeria’s biggest goal in the 40th minute to lead them to a massive 1-0 win. The result plunged Egypt into chaos and made Yahia a national hero.
PERCENTAGE CHANCE TO PROGRESS: 15%. You know, stranger things have happened. This is not a great team, but they are tough and will be playing on as close to home soil as you can get without hosting it. All African teams should get a boost. While I doubt anyone is going to overlook them, they can catch you napping. Just ask Egypt.
TO WATCH: Algeria plays a pretty plodding style of football that more often than not results in errant passes and clumsy fouls. They have an experienced defense but lack close control skills and too often decline to take the shot. Keep in mind also that Belhadj and No. 1 keeper Faouzi Chaouchi will miss games; they were both suspended in the African Cup of Nations semifinals and must serve those bans in the group stage.
ROSTERGoalkeepers: Lounes Gaouaoui (ASO Chlef), Faouzi Chaouchi (Entente Setif), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (MC Alger), M'bohi Rais Ouheb (Slavia Sofia, Bulgaria)
Defenders: Abdelkader Laifaoui (Entente Setif), Madjid Bougherra (Rangers, Scotland), Carl Medjani (Ajaccio, France), Rafik Halliche (Nacional Madeira, Portugal), Anther Yahia (Bochum, Germany), Habib Belaid (Boulogne-sur-Mer, France), Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth, England), Djamel Mesbah (Lecce, Italy)
Midfielders: Hassan Yebda (Portsmouth, England), Medhi Lacen (Racing Santander, Spain), Yazid Mansouri (Lorient, France), Adlene Guedioura (on loan at Wolverhampton, England from Charleroi, Belgium), Riad Boudebouz (Sochaux, France), Djamel Abdoun (Nantes, France), Fouad Kadir (Valenciennes, France), Mourad Meghni (Lazio, Italy), Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg, Germany), Karim Matmour (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany)
Strikers: Abdelkader Ghezzal (Siena, Italy), Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens, Greece), Rafik Saifi (Istres, France)
TOMORROW'S TEAM: Slovakia