Last month marked ten years since Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, died in police detention. His death led to the radicalisation of the sect and a declaration of Jihad against the Nigerian state.
Algeria: The Desert Foxes
The Desert Foxes ?have much to prove
1982 and 1986: First round?
African Cup of Nations ?
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Knocked out Egypt (1-0)
Lounès Gaouaoui, ASO Chlef
Faouzi Chaouchi, Entente Setif
M’bolhi Rais Ouheb, Slavia Sofia
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
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
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.