Algeria - World Cup 2014 Team Profile
Nick Spiller reports
Road to Brazil
Having failed to live up to the hype surrounding this talented team at the 2013 African Cup of Nations, questions were abundant about Algeria's hopes for qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. However, Algeria was able to dominate a group consisting of Mali, Rwanda, and Benin. This set up a playoff date with Burkina Faso, and Algeria won on the away goals rule in a controversial two-legged tie, earning their trip to Brazil.
Algeria Kit 1
Algeria Kit 2
Algeria v Belgium 17 June; Belo Horizonte
Algeria v South Korea 22 June; Porto Alegre
Algeria v Russia 26 June; Curitiba
While the 2010 World Cup appearance was largely seen as a failure for Algeria due to the fact that they didn't score a single goal, their ability to hold England to a 0-0 draw revealed that the African nation is quite a bit stronger than most people give them credit for. The majority of their squad is based at various European clubs, including several youngsters who show great potential like Sofiane Feghouli, Nabil Bentaleb, and Saphir Taider.
But the balance of veteran maturity will be solid, especially at the back with experienced players like Madjid Bougherra and Rafi Halliche. The good thing for the Algerian national squad is that most of the team have experience playing in top caliber leagues like the English Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga. This means that they won't be blown away by the talent at the World Cup. These guys have played against such stars before.Nevertheless, most people see Algeria as the weakest team of World Cup Group H, featuring Belgium, Russia, and South Korea. Perhaps this underdog mentality will work to their advantage, especially given the pressure that their opponents will feel to beat the supposed easy team in the group stage.
Key player: Sofiane Feghouli
One of the more exciting young players at the World Cup, Feghouli features for Valencia in Spain. His area of expertise is as a creative attacker from the wing or midfield position, where he often helps set up goals and occasionally scores several himself. Just 24, Feghouli is the brightest young prospect in Algerian soccer and will be needed to break down the strong international defenses. His ability to do that will likely determine the nation's fate in Brazil.
One to watch: Aleksandr Kokorin
Only 19 years old, Bentaleb burst on to the soccer scene last December for Tottenham of the EPL. As a midfielder, he has put in several fabulous displays, making him another rising Algerian star. Due to his great talent, Bentaleb was selected to play in several matches for Algeria, even netting his first international goal in a friendly against Romania this month. While his youth will certainly be a factor, he could be an exciting star of the future to keep an eye out for at the World Cup.
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Once a wonderful Bosnian player that featured for Yugoslavia, Halilhodzic has worked wonders as a manager for various clubs and countries. Able to take relatively average teams to impressive heights has made him a prized manager for many teams across Europe. With Algeria, he will hope that his experienced defenders will hold down the fort while the young forwards will get a few chances to score.
1982, 1986, 2010 First Round
2014 World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria), Cedric Si Mohamed (CS Constantine), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger)
Defenders: Essaid Belkalem (Watford, England on loan from Granada, Spain), Madjid Bougherra (Lekhwya Club, Qatar), Liassine Cadamuro (Mallorca, Spain), Faouzi Ghoualm (Napoli, Italy), Rafik Halliche (Academica Coimbra, Portugal), Aissa Mandi (Stade Reims, France), Carl Medjani (Valenciennes, France), Djamel Mesbah (Livorno, Italy), Mehdi Mostefa (AC Ajaccio, France)
Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham, England), Yasine Brahimi (Granada, Spain), Medhi Lacen (Getafe, Spain), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan, Italy), Hassan Yebda (Udinese, Italy)
Forwards: Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain, Tunisia), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia, Spain), Nabil Ghilas (Porto, Portugal), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City, England), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia)