To qualify for their fourth World Cup, Algeria were thankful for captain Madjid Bougherra’s telling influence in the 1-0 second leg play-off win over Burkina Faso. The 31-year-old, who has appeared for Crewe, Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday in an eclectic career, scrambled in the crucial goal just after half time, sending his side through via the away goals rule.
Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic
Captain: Madjid Bougherra
World Cup Winners: N/A
World Cup Runners up: N/A
Best Finish: Group Stage (1982, 1986, 2010)
Algeria 2014 World Cup preview:
In qualifying, Algeria will take their place in a sinister-looking Group C with Belgium, Russia and South Korea; and I say sinister due to the unpredictability of each and every one of the teams, something the Algerians could actually benefit from.
The Russians and Belgians are both strong sides, but a lack of experience in the latter stages of the competition in modern times has seen them branded as underdogs, with the South Koreans very used to that moniker, having finished an unexpected fourth in their own country in 2002.
The Algerians need to summon up that same outsider spirit if they are to make an impact, and while the history books are not pleasant reading for them, the emergence of a crop of young talent will give them a chance, albeit a very slim one, of pulling off a real shock in South America.
Winger Sofiane Feghouli is the new star, with the Valencia man having wowed audiences in last year’s Europa League, scoring in the semi-final first leg against Sevilla. His pace, skill and guile will be of huge help to Vahid Halilhodzic’s side, and it will be largely up to him to break Algeria’s World Cup duck, with the Algerians having scored just one World Cup goal since the start of the 1986 tournament in Mexico.
Algeria 2014 World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger),Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia),Cedric Si Mohamed (CS Constantine).
Defenders: Carl Medjani (Valenciennes),Aissa Mandi (Reims),Madjid Bougherra (Lekhwiya),Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli),Rafik Halliche (Academica),Essaid Belkalem (Watford),Liassine Cadamuro (Real Mallorca),Djamel Mesbah (Livorno),Mehdi Mostefa (Ajaccio).
Midfielders: Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia),Saphir Taider (Inter Milan),Medhi Lacen (Getafe),Abdelmoumen Djabou (Club Africain),Yacine Brahimi (Grenada),Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham),Hassan Yebda (Udinese),Riyad Mahrez (Leicester).
Forwards: Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon),Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb),Nabil Ghilas (Porto)
Key Player(s): Sofiane Feghouli
Algeria 2014 World Cup Stats:
For more World Cup previews, stats and news, see our World Cup 2014 Guide.