A 24-year absence has not stopped Algeria from qualifying for the World Cup Finals. Les Fennecs (The Desert Foxes) winners of the African Cup of Nations are poised to get out of the group stage for the first time in their world cup history. Although the chances of them succeeding are very slim.
Algeria qualified for the finals in a last game playoff against Egypt. Antar Yahia scored on of the biggest goals of his life in a game that propelled Algeria to the finals for only the third time. Algeria had to go through Egypt, Rwanda and Zambia in the third round of the qualifying stages for the World Cup. They finished the group in first after the playoff with a positive goal differential.
Slovenia: June 13
England: June 18
United States: June 23
The draw for the Desert Foxes was not a kind one. They were drawn against England, United States and Slovenia. Algeria would love to advance past the group stages but in doing so they will have to beat front runners to win the World Cup England, who looks poised to win it all.
Their first match will be against Slovenia, which may be one of their easiest matches. Five days later they will take the pitch against England a very strong club looking to win the group. Their final match will come against the United States on June 23 at Loftus Versfeld.
Algeria will be looking to play spoiler in one of their last two group stage games in order to advance past the group stage. They will be playing with nothing to lose, but looking to keep their pride on home soil.
Algeria is led by Antar Yahia, who put The Desert Foxes through to the World Cup Finals with his heroic goal in a last ditch playoff in qualifying. He will be anchoring the back along side Madjid Bougherra and Nadir Belhadj.
All three will be looking to help keep opposing teams from scoring and getting Algeria out of the group stage for the first time.
Goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui, is trying to keep his spot as a starter while back up keeper Fawzi Chaouchi is turning into a real contender to take over the starting job in goal.
The midfield and attack is the strongest point in the Algerian’s game. They will be looking to spread the ball through the midfield to the speedy forwards Karim Ziani and Mourad Meghni, who can turn it on when in the open field.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
One of the biggest strengths Algeria has recently received is the one of Zinidine Zidane operating in an advisory role with the team. With his knowledge of the game and a team that just claimed the African Cup of Nations and they could potentially advance out of the first round for the first time.
Another strong factor with this team is the midfield and how they distribute the ball forward so well to their speedy forwards Ziani and Meghni. This could create a potential onslaught if opposing teams are caught sleeping.
The main weakness for this team is that it lacks experience even though they won the African Cup of Nations. This is only its third World Cup final and they have never advanced past the group stage. The team also lacks experience in key parts of the field too.
They will be going up against players from other countries who compete in some of the strongest and biggest football championships in the world year in year out. Whereas most players alongside the Algerian team lack this crucial big game experience.
Lack of big name stars and inexperience in big game situations may be the reason the Desert Foxes get ousted in the group stage.
IT WOULD BE A GREAT WORLD CUP IF…
The young inexperienced Desert Foxes make it out of the group stage into the next round. There is huge potential for this team to succeed and advance through their young forward thinking ball playing. There is no expectation for this team to win it all and that could potentially help push Algeria through for the first time.
IT WOULD BE A DISASTER IF…
Algeria doesn’t win a single game. Even though they are in a stacked group C, with England and the United States there is huge potential for them to be able to match up well with these two teams and pull of what would be an upset. Especially with the home crowd cheering them on in full, a win less tournament would be a huge disaster.
Its hard to explain how this team won six of their home games in qualifying but then needed a playoff in order to reach the finals. Although playing on the home soil of South Africa with the mass of fans cheering them on, this will be the year that Algeria pull’s the upsets necessary to propel them into the next round.
This would be a huge boost for this team, which in the years to come should get stronger and stronger and more experienced as the years go on.
If they can come in together as a team and not let the big games get to there head and disturb their game then they have.