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Thursday 28 August 2014

World Cup team preview: Algeria

Published 11/05/2014 | 13:13

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Algeria will hope for any improvement from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa
Algeria will hope for any improvement from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa

With just 32 days until the World Cup kicks off, Independent.ie will preview each and every team. First up are rank outsiders Algeria.

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Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea

Tournament Odds: 2000/1

Algeria will represent the entire Arabic-speaking world when compete at their second successive World Cup finals as the only side from north Africa and the Middle East to qualify.

Drawn with Belgium, Russia and South Korea, the North Africans' 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.

While the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Samir Nasri have opted for France, Algeria has constructed its 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 levelThe latest two to commit to the country are Inter Milan striker Ishak Belfodil and midfielder Saphir Taider, both 21.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb (19), who won his first cap in March in a friendly with Slovenia, is expected to play his part in Brazil

How they got there

After losing just one of their five African qualifiers, Algeria reached the play-offs where they face Burkino Faso.

A nerve jangling affair, they scraped through on the away goals rule. After losing the away leg 3-2, a Bougherra goal helping the home side to a narrow victory.

Key player

French-born midfielder Sofiane Feghouli has quickly become the heartbeat of the Algerian side since his debut in early 2012.

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He has since scored five goals in 17 internationals, none more vital than the classy strike in the 3-2 defeat in Burkina Faso in the first leg of their final round playoff.

Feghouli was just 17 when he made his debut for Grenoble in Ligue 2 in 2007. He signed a four-year contract with Valencia in 2010 and recently signed an extension that keeps him at the Spanish club until 2016.

Something you might not know about Algeria

In 2007, a court in Algeria had to rule on the ownership of a donkey which had eaten the money brought by a purchaser for its sale.

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