Algeria go into the 2010 FIFA World Cup as the sole representatives of the Arab countries, carrying thus the hopes and dreams of 350+ million people. Having spent 24 years on the sidelines, the Desert Foxes now hold a golden opportunity to impress on the big stage, after some disappointing international results lately, namely missing out on the 2006 and 2008 African Cup of Nations.

The North Africans will only be contesting their third World Cup, with their previous entries being the 1982 and 1986 editions, both of which ended in frustration as Algeria crashed out in the first round. For this year’s event, the team qualified after a controversial tie-breaker with Egypt, with both teams sharing a historic feud. Coach Rabah Saadane’s team has been drawn in Group C alongside England, the United States and Slovenia.

The Coach

Rabah Saadane (ALG)
64 years old

Rabah Saadane is no stranger to Algeria’s senior team, having already managed it in five distinctive stints. Furthermore, the “Sheik” has had an illustrious career as one of Algeria’s best players, capping it off with a spell at French outfit Stade Rennais. As a manager, he also coached Raja Casablanca, Etoile Sportive du Sahel, Yemen’s national team, and ES Setif. The coach himself is not under any pressure, asking the public not to expect “miracles” to happen any time soon.

Players to watch

Yazid Mansouri
32 years old
FC Lorient (FRA)

The heart of the Algerian side, Yazid Mansouri is a definite starter under Saadane. The squad captain will be the link between attack and defence during the tournament, playing just in front of the backline. His experience will no doubt be priceless should the African country want to progress from their difficult group.



Madjid Bougherra
27 years old
Centre Back
Rangers (SCO)

Bougherra arrived in English football with lowly Crewe Alexandra in 2006 after four years in French football. A strong and dominant defender, who can also play in midfield, Bougherra set about quickly proving he was better than the lower leagues, earning the interest of first Sheffield Wednesday, then Charlton, before finally bagging a move to Scottish champions Rangers. Familiar with the physical style of the British game, the 27-year-old will be crucial when Algeria meet England in the group stage.

Nadir Belhaj
27 years old
Left Wingback
Portsmouth (ENG)

It is a shame that a person such as Nadir Belhaj could end up playing in England’s second division next season, with Portsmouth finishing bottom of the English Premier League. The left winger has been sensational under former manager Avram Grant, eventually morphing into a Fratton Park fan favourite. An expert free-kick taker, his presence will be crucial for “Les Fennecs”.

Hassan Yebda
26 years old
Benfica (POR)

The highly rated midfielder also spent the season at Portsmouth on loan, but after a good showing on the south coast, the Benfica hierarchy could very well keep him for the upcoming campaign. The 2010 FA Cup runner-up could very well be one to watch in the Algerian side, and an eyebrow-raising performance could very well turn him into one of the competition’s surprises.

The view from Algeria

Rarely are Arab countries expected to go all the way during the big events, and this time will be no exception. Coach Rabah Saadane has named a squad that mostly consists of young and inexperienced players, and asking them to topple the European and South American big guns could be a little bit too much. That is not to say that the Algerians will not play with their heart on their sleeves, but even so their courage could prove not to be enough.


In a group that comprises the likes of England and the last Confederations Cup finalists the United States, it will be hard for Algeria to seek qualification past the group stages. The English will feel that it is their year, and will surely win the encounter with the Desert Foxes, while the likes of the US and Slovenia could cause the Africans all sorts of problems.

Did you know?

The West Germany versus Austria match at the 1982 World Cup was a landmark in the history of Algerian football. With the group stage match under very special stipulations, both teams allegedly made an unofficial pact after Germany’s first goal – at the 10-minute mark – as they kicked the ball around aimlessly for the remaining time to ensure that Algeria were dumped out of the competition. Although they technically did not break any rules, FIFA nonetheless made sure such a situation would not happen again, ruling all group matches of any international tournament must start simultaneously.

Group games

13/06/10: Algeria  0 – 1  Slovenia    –   Polokwane
18/06/10: Algeria  0 – 0  England    –   Cape Town
23/06/10: Algeria  0 – 1  United States    –   Tshwane/Pretoria