Manager: Vahid Hililhodzic
Captain: Madjid Bougherra
Pitted against Burkina Faso in the compulsory African section playoffs, Algeria were facing the very real prospect of missing out on the 2014 World Cup. The Fennec Foxes fell to a 3-2 defeat in Burkina Faso, but were able to sneak through on away goals after a 1-0 win in Blida, with a goal from skipper Bougherra.
This tournament will mark consecutive World Cup’s for Algeria for the second time in their history. And whilst most will remember their dreary and abrasive efforts in the 2010 World Cup, this is a team much improved from the one that played in South Africa four years earlier.
Most notably because Hilihodzic has done his best to integrate some promising young players, especially in attacking areas. Players like Yacine Brahimi, Islam Slimani and Sofiane Feghouli have talent, and they are complimented well by the physical influences of Bougherra and Adlene Guediora.
Nabil Bentaleb also takes his place in the squad, and looks set to start in central midfield after a breakthrough season at Tottenham.
Hilihodzic has struggled to introduce similar quality in the defensive positions though, and this is arguably the biggest challenge facing this team ahead of their fourth World Cup bow. But he will be hoping the team can maintain similar solidarity and togetherness to the 2010 side, who were notoriously difficult to break down. England, of course, found this out to their peril.
They have a pedigree for upsets, having famously beat West Germany in their opening game of the 1982 World Cup. Can they cause a similar stir in South America?
Probably not, and an early exit beckons for Algeria. This team is still a work in progress and have little in terms of big game experience within their ranks.
Key Player – Sofiane Feghouli
Feghouli was eligible to play for France – the county of his birth – and Algeria. But despite representing France twice at U21 level, he opted for the Fennec Foxes after discussions with the Algerian FA in 2011.
His influence was immediate, scoring the winner on debut in a 2-1 victory over Gambia. And since his bow, he has given the Algerian an added attacking dimension.
The Valencia man is capable of playing from the right-hand side or just off the striker and is without doubt the most potent attacking force for this team. His excellent work-rate will be a key attribute too, especially when the Algerians come up against stronger, technically superior opponents.