Tuesday, May 04, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: Algeria

We preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup, set for June 11-July 11 in South Africa.

Last time there: 1986, exited in first round
Best performance: Has never advanced past first round

When your claim to fame is an African Nations Cup title that happened back in 1990, there isn't much going your way.

However, Algeria did qualify, thanks to a playoff win over Egypt, and now they carry the Arabic banner into South Africa (they're the only Arabic nation in the tournament). Their third World Cup apperance is likely to be quick one, unless 34-year-old striker Rafik Saifi and center back Madjid Bougherra can work their magic.

FIFA has a relatively new rule (six years or so old) allowing players to switch national allegiance even after playing for one country. Many of the Algerian players were actually born in France, making for a weird mix on the roster.

In Group C, Algeria faces a challenge. Inexperienced Slovenia joins them, as do England and Team USA. If they can get a point out of either their match with the Brits or Americans, Algeria could actually give themselves an outside chance to advance with a win over Slovenia in their group stage opener.

Chances are this will be easier said than done, though the African side should have the benefit of at least playing on their home continent, even though they'll be far away from home.

June 13 vs. Slovenia (Polokwane)
June 18 vs. United States (Johannesburg -- Ellis Park)
June 23 vs. England (Port Elizabeth)

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