Algeria arrive in South Africa with one of the most talented squads in recent history, led by experienced coach Vahid Halilhodzic, but they, nonetheless, face a difficult task in their attempt to win the second Africa Cup of Nations trophy. The Fennec Foxes had to go through two rounds of qualifiers in order to reach the tournament finals, but they eased off to double wins over Gambia and Libya.
Algeria have notched up a good string of results since Vahid Halilhodzic took over, mostly thanks to their star-studded midfield, although the lack of quality and experience in attack could prove to be a problem. The Fennec Foxes recorded a 4-0 win over Rwanda at the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but were beaten by Mali in the second group game. Having been placed in what is a pretty evenly matched group, Algeria have got a good opportunity to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Algeria AFCON squad
Goalkeepers: Azzeddine Doukha (USM Harrach), Rais Mbolhi (Kryla Sovetov), Cedric Si Mohammed (JSM Bejaia)
Defenders: Essaid Belkalem (JS Kabylie), Liassine Cadamuro (Real Sociedad), Faouzi Ghoulam (St Etienne), Rafik Halliche (Academica), Carl Medjani (AC Ajaccio), Djamel Mesbah (AC Milan), Mehdi Mostefa (AC Ajaccio), Ali Rial (JS Kabylie)
Midfielders: Hameur Bouazza (Real Santander), Ryad Boudebouz (Sochaux), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest), Foued Kadir (Marseille), Medhi Lacen (Getafe), Khaled Lemmouchia (Club Africain), Saad Tedjar (USM Alger)
Forwards: Yacine Bezzaz (CS Constantine), Hilal Soudani (Vitoria Guimaraes), Islam Slimani (Chabab Belouizdad), Mohamed Amine Aoudia (Entente Setif).
Algeria AFCON History
Algeria used the home field advantage to win all five games and lift the coveted title in 1990, but that is their sole major trophy up to date. The Fennec Foxes finished as runners up in 1980, at their second appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, while winning the bronze medal in 1984 and 1988. Algeria reached semi-finals on two more occasions, in 1982 and 2010, but lost the third-place play-off match both times.
Players to Watch
Valencia winger Sofiane Feghouli arrives at the competition in top form and is expected to add a lot to the attacking department. New Marseille acquisition Foued Kadir has also been playing some great football this season and is likely to prove a great asset in the creative department, while Nottingham Forest midfielder Adlene Guedioura is another player tipped to shine at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
With most of the talent packed in midfield, boss Vahid Halilhodzic need to make sure other areas are also up to the task, but it appears he is slowly finding the right balance in the side. Algeria have enough quality and experience to qualify from Group D, they are 2.00 (1/1) with BetFred to do so, and maybe they can even reach the semi-finals. Having said that, I seriously doubt they can make it to the final, let alone win the coveted title.
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