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Algeria: The Desert Foxes

By Alexis Billebault
Posted on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 08:43

The Desert Foxes ?have much to prove

HONOURS?

World Cup
1982 and 1986: First round?

African Cup of Nations ?
1990: winner?

HOW THEY QUALIFIED

Knocked out Egypt (1-0)

MANAGER

Rabah Saâdane

IN GOAL

Lounès Gaouaoui, ASO Chlef

Faouzi Chaouchi, Entente Setif

M’bolhi Rais Ouheb, Slavia Sofia

DEFENCE

Abdelkader Laïfaoui, Entente Setif

Madjid Bougherra, Rangers

Carl Medjani, Ajaccio

Rafik Halliche, Nacional Madeira

Anther Yahia, Bochum

Habib Belaid, Boulogne-sur-Mer

Nadir Belhadj, Portsmouth

Djamel Mesbah, Lecce

MIDFIELD

Hassan Yebda, Portsmouth

Medhi Lacen, Racing Santander

Yazid Mansouri, Lorient

Adlene Guedioura, on loan at Wolverhampton,
from Charleroi, Belgium

Riad Boudebouz, Sochaux

Djamel Abdoun, Nantes

Fouad Kadir, Valenciennes

Karim Ziani, Wolfsburg

Karim Matmour, Borussia Moenchengladbach

ATTACK

Abdelkader Ghezzal, Siena

Rafik Djebbour, AEK Athens

Rafik Saifi, Istres

Should passion sweep all before it, and be allowed to cloud judgement and absolve all kinds of exessive behaviour? On 3 March, Serbia played Algeria in the capital Algiers, beating them 3-0. The fans, never short of committment, went as far as to invade the hotel where the Desert Foxes were staying to remonstrate with them. And the stadium, designed for 70,000, was packed beyond the rafters to a dangerous 100,000. The Algerian football federation has therefore chosen to play the final preparation match against the United Arab Emirates abroad, most ?likely in Italy.

Perhaps Algerians are so inflamed because of two decades of frustration, having lived for so long on the memory of the 1982 golden generation who were locked out of the second round in Spain’s World Cup by the Austro-German ?entente. The last time Algeria was in a World Cup, in Mexico 1986, they were out in the first round. Since then, an African Cup of Nations victory in 1990 and an ACN quarter-final lost to Morocco in 2004 have been the only bright spots for the nation’s footballers.

Former coach Rabah Saâdane, 64, has earned himself a recall, having managed the Foxes during the 1980s. A well-earned (3-2) victory against Senegal in September 2008 has helped create team spirit and eased tensions between members of the team who play abroad and those who play in Algeria.

Madjid Bougherra, who plays for Glasgow Rangers, sits at the heart of the defence, one of the foundation stones of a team that includes Belhadj, Ziani, Saïfi and Matmoor.

Given their run at the recent ACN in Angola, where they nonetheless finished fourth, the Algerians should not expect too much, especially in a tough group with England, the US and ?Slovenia. But despite being a work in progress, this young team has shown it has the ability to surprise opponents.

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