Algeria could make World Cup history
The 30-man preliminary squad contains a wealth of quality from some of Europe’s strongest clubs
Most of those selected to represent Algeria at the 2014 World Cup were not even born as the country’s finest hour led to a 2-1 win over West Germany in Spain in 1982.
Algeria’s four World Cup appearances - 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014 - are part of a volatile relationship between football, politics and social revolution.
Football became central to anti-colonial propaganda, and helped garner support for the movement for independence from France between 1958 and 1962.
“It was an era of political gigantism, characterized by the development of new massive sports facilities and the participation of Algeria in major regional games,” Mahfoud Amara wrote in his Loughborough University study “Football Sub-cultures and Youth Politics in Algeria.”
Almost a generation later, Algeria qualified for its first World Cup in 1982, at which it produced one of the greatest shocks on the biggest stage in world football.
It was seen as more than just a feat, but a chance to recognize the capabilities of the African continent, which has yet to see a world champion.
The win over the imposing European heavyweights West Germany was seen by the Ministry for Sport to have done more for the mood of the country than any Algerian ambassador, Amara added.
New youth of Algerian football
As in 1982 and 1986, Algeria has qualified for back-to-back tournaments in South Africa and Brazil under the management of Rabah Saâdane and then Vahid Halilhodzic.
Saâdane’s conservative approach has been replaced by the Bosnian’s confidence in allowing Algeria’s younger talent, largely foreign-born, to perform to their evident high level.
One of the locals is 25-year-old Islam Slimani, who scored five goals in the World Cup qualifiers.
The 30-man preliminary squad contains a wealth of quality from some of Europe’s strongest clubs.
French-born Sofiane Feghouli of Valencia is the star of the Algerian team, known for his unpredictable style of attacking play.
The 24-year-old’s technical ability is of a high quality, in tandem with a powerful physique and flashes of dynamic movement in attack.
With 21 internationals behind him, Feghouli is creating new enthusiasm among Algeria supporters.
Castres-born Saphir Taider, 22, of Inter Milan, is an outstanding midfield prospect. The Milan giants spent €5.5 million ($7.54 million) to own part of Taider’s rights, and he has played a solid part in their Serie A season.
There is also representation from Tottenham Hotspur in 19-year-old midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, as well as the experience of Captain Madjid Bougherra - now a free agent - and 30-year-old Udinese star Hassan Yebda.
One of their first-round opponents, Belgium, is similarly benefiting from a core of multinational footballers at international level. Algeria will also face South Korea and Russia.
The multinational alliance of the Algerian side could make history for the North African nation in Brazil by progressing to the next round.
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