2010 FIFA World Cup: A Few Things You Should Know About Algeria
A lot of people wrote Algeria off heading into South Africa, but they’re still alive and kicking having conceded only one goal in two games.
With all four teams in Group C vying for a spot in the Round of 16, you better believe the Desert Foxes will play their hearts out in the final round of group play.
Here are a few things you should know about Algeria.
Algeria’s World Cup History
This is only the third time in history that Algeria is participating in the World Cup Finals. They qualified in 1982 and 1986 but failed to make it out of the group both times.
They did, however, manage to beat West Germany and Chile in ’82. Algeria, West Germany, and Austria (who beat the Desert Foxes 2-0) concluded group play with four points apiece (in 1982, a team only received two points for a win), but Algeria took the early exit on an inferior goal differential.
In November 2009, Algeria defeated bitter rivals Egypt in a playoff match to earn their spot at this year’s World Cup Finals in South Africa.
Where is Algeria?
Algeria is located in the northwestern portion of Africa next to Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Western Sahara. Here is some other general information about the country:
Area: 2,381,740 square km
Language: Arabic is the official language, but French and Berber dialects are spoken in ethnic areas
Currency: Algerian Dinar (DZD)
History and Culture
Algeria has been conquered by many empires throughout its history. In ancient times, it was part of the Numidia kingdom and its people were called Numidian.
Author Terrence McKenna hypothesized that the fabled Garden of Eden lied within Algeria, and is therefore the birthplace of humanity.
Ancient paintings also indicate a Shamanistic religion based on the use of psychedelic mushrooms, another reason why McKenna proposed the region was the cradle of culture and civilization.
Mushroom-induced visions give a powerful impulse towards art, painting, and the sense of contact with the supernatural that is the basis of religious belief.
Berber people controlled the region during much of the Middle Ages, with Muslim Arabs arriving in the mid-seventh century. Spanish conquest was next, followed by the Ottoman Empire, with the French taking control in 1830. Algeria finally gained its independence on July 5, 1962.
Modern Algerian literature is split between Arabic and French, a language that is still spoken in many parts of the country. Over 99 percent of the citizens are also Muslim, exhibiting the post-colonial influence of Algeria’s past.
Did You Know...
…that Algeria’s best and most well-known footballer never donned his country’s colors? Zinedine Zidane was born in Marseille but his parents emigrated from Algeria, making him a citizen of both countries.
Algeria considered him for their national team but Zidane was ineligible since he had already played for France.
After his infamous headbutt in the 2006 World Cup championship match, perhaps they are glad things worked out the way they did.
Their Next Match is Against the United States
That match kicks off at 10:00 a.m. EST at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa tomorrow.
Algeria can advance to the Round of 16 with a win over the United States coupled with an England loss to Slovenia, so this is sure to be an exciting match.
American viewers can tune in to the English language telecast on ESPN, ESPN3.com, and ESPN Mobile TV, or catch one in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and Univision.