Algeria 2014 World Cup profile

Algeria were drawn with Belgium, Russia and South Korea

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Two successive World Cup appearances would have seemed almost impossible a decade ago but Algeria have made a swift return from the doldrums to again take a prominent role in African soccer.

They now have high hopes of getting past the group stage in Brazil, having set themselves the ambitious target of a place in the knockout round at the fourth attempt.


Drawn with Belgium, Russia and South Korea, their prospects might seem slim but are markedly better than four years ago when they failed to score a goal in South Africa and finished bottom of their group.

Civil and political turmoil coupled with years of poor returns for the Algerian national side had left the Arabic-speaking country a pale shadow of the team that had been among the early standard-bearers for the African game and had beaten West Germany at the 1982 World Cup.

They fell victim to one of the darker passages of play in World Cup history. Because of the way the group results had fallen, Austria and West Germany met in the last match knowing exactly what they had to do for both German-speaking neighbors to advance at Algeria's expense.

In the event a fiasco of a match ended in a 1-0 win to West Germany meaning they both went through and Algeria went home.

Their surprise progress to the 2010 finals, after upsetting heavily fancied Egypt in a qualifying play-off, marked a dramatic change of fortune on which they have succeeded in building a more settled and confident team.

Algeria have constructed their side around a swathe of French-born players, drawn from the massive migrant population in Europe. Many of them switched allegiance after playing for France at junior level.

While Zinedine Zidane and Karim Benzema slipped through their grasp. These days players with Algerian connections in top European leagues are actively courted in an attempt to strengthen the squad.

Among the new recruits are 19-year-old Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, who won his first cap in March in a friendly with Slovenia, having represented France once at under-19 level and uncapped Leicester midfielder Riyad Mahrez.

The squad is under the control of an experienced coach who played in the 1982 World Cup finals for Yugoslavia, 61-year-old Vahid Halilhodzic.

The Franco-Bosnian has an impressive coaching CV with experience in seven countries including Algeria and was unfortunate not to have taken Ivory Coast to the finals in 2010 when he was sacked after getting them there.

He is under no illusions about Algeria's chances, but has said a place beyond the first round for the first time is a realistic target.

Striker Ishak Belfodil of Italian club Livorno is the only major surprise of those left out. Disciplinary problems have marked his brief international career, which began last August in a friendly against Guinea.

Algeria World Cup squad

Algeria's 30-man provisional squad for the 2014 World Cup finals:

Goalkeepers: Azzedine Doukha (USM El Harrach), Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia), Cedric Si Mohamed (CS Constantine), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger)

Defenders: Essaid Belkalem (Watford), Madjid Bougherra (Al Lekhwiya), Liassine Cadamuro (Mallorca), Faouzi Ghoulam (Naples), Rafik Halliche (Academica Coimbra), Nacereddine Khoualed (USM Alger), Aissa Mandi (Stade Reims), Carl Medjani (Valenciennes), Djamel Mesbah (Livorno), Mehdi Mostefa (Ajaccio)

Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryad Boudebouz (Bastia), Yacine Brahimi (Granada), Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Adlene Guedioura (Crystal Palace), Foued Kadir (Stade Rennes), Amir Karaoui (Entente Setif), Mehdi Lacen (Getafe), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Saphir Taider (Inter Milan), Hassan Yebda (Udinese)Forwards: Rafik Djebbour (Nottingham Forest), Nabil Ghilas (Porto), Islam Slimani (Sporting), El Arabi Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb).

Algeria coach - Vahid Halilhodzic

Vahid Halilhodzic was fired months before he was due to take Ivory Coast to the last World Cup finals and his current tenure with Algeria has followed a similarly rocky course.

But the Franco-Bosnian is expected to be in the dugout when Algeria play their opening Group H match against Belgium in Belo Horizonte on June 17, returning to the finals 32 years after playing for Yugoslavia at the 1982 tournament in Spain.

The 61-year-old has had a tempestuous relationship with his Algerian employers that at times threatened a premature exit, much in the same way he lost his job before the 2010 World Cup.

On that occasion he coached Ivory Coast through a comfortable qualifying campaign and long unbeaten run but a shock defeat to Algeria in the 2010 African Nations Cup quarter-final in Angola just months before the tournament in South Africa cost him his job.

Halilhodzic was a prolific striker with Velez Mostar before heading to France, winning Ligue 1 with Nantes in 1983 and also playing for Paris St Germain. He was in the Yugoslavia side at the 1982 World Cup, making two substitute appearances.

As a coach, Halilhodzic took Lille from Ligue 2 to the Champions League and also had stints at Stade Rennes and Paris St Germain. In 1997 he won the African Champions League as coach of Morocco's Raja Casablanca.

And while he may have a reputation as a being a little feisty at times, he is nothing if not experienced having also coached in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Croatia.

While no-one realistically expects Algeria to win the World Cup, there are still a number of tangible targets for the side.

“We're a small nation and our first objective is to win a match and then, if possible, qualifying for the second round because Algeria has never done that before.”

“We are also the only North African Arab team in the competition and we want to make absolutely sure we represent the country well and make them proud of us.”

Since August 1, 2012, Algeria have played 16 matches, won 9, drawn 3 and lost 4, with a goal tally of 22-13 in.

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