Algeria's coach Rabah Saadane announced his preliminary roster of 25 players for the World Cup. The USA is one of their Group C rivals along with England and Slovenia. The Fennecs will get to test their World Cup squad in friendlies against Ireland and the UAE before departing for South Africa.
Goalkeepers: Fawzi Chaouchi (Entente Setif), Lounes Gaouaoui (ASO Chlef), Mbohi Rais Ouheb (Slavia Sofia/Bulgaria), Mohamed Amine Zemmamouche (Mouloudia Algiers)
Defenders: Habib Belaid (Boulogne-sur-Mer/France), Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth/England), Madjid Bougherra (Rangers/Scotland), Rafik Halliche (Nacional/Portugal), Abdelkader Laifaoui (Entente Setif), Carl Medjani (Ajaccio/France), Djamel Mesbah (Lecce/Italy), Antar Yahia (VfL Bochum/Germany)
Midfielders: Djamel Abdoun (Nantes/France), Riad Boudebouz (Sochaux/France), Adlane Guedioura (Wolverhampton Wanderers/England), Fouad Kadir (Valenciennes/France), Medhi Lacen (Racing Santander/Spain), Yazid Mansouri (FC Lorient/France), Mourad Meghni (Lazio/Italy), Hassan Yebda (Portsmouth/England), Karim Ziani (VfL Wolfsburg/Germany)
Forwards: Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens/Greece), Abdelkader Ghezzal (Siena/Italy), Karim Matmour (Borussia Mönchengladbach/Germany), Rafik Saifi (Istres/France).
Saadane has kept his faith in the back four that saw duty in the recently concluded 2010 ACN, where in the semi-final they were pounded by Egypt in a humiliating loss, 4-0.
Wingback Nadir Belhadj whose attacking forays have helped Pompey score some important goals. Ranger stand out Madjid Bougherra, whose impressive performances as central defender has made him a fan favourite and a Liverpool target. He is also a team mate of Maurice Edu who could find himself in the USA line up. The hero of Khartoum Antar Yahia, whose goal led the Fennecs over the Pharoahs in that bitterly contested match. His club VfL Bochum is most likely to be relegated.
In midfield the heart and soul is VfL Wolfsburg's Karim Ziani whose exciting link up with Edin Dzeko and Grafite was a huge factor in their Bundesliga success. Ziani built on his success at L'OM, making a name for his midfield creatiivity. Adlane Guedioura, a towering presence in midfield- on loan to Wolves has impressed with his performances such that Mike McCarthy maybe considering a permanent three year contract. Hassan Yebda also on loan to Pompey has had an impressive career at Benfica. Karim Matmour listed as a forward in the Borussia M'gladbach website is Michael Bradley's understudy as an attacking midfielder, recently coming on when the US player was suspended.
Given the impressive names in midfield and in defense, the attack is decidedly low wattage.
Saadane is relying on 35 year old Rafik Saifi of French Ligue 2 club, Istres. He is the only one scoring with a degree of consistency with 19 goals. The other strikers Abdelkhader Ghezzal of Siena and Rafik Djebbour have 6 goals between them.
Saadane also faces a goalkeeping quandary. Algerian custodians have proven notoriously unreliable in the past.
Fawzi Chaouchi was the other hero along with Yahia in that match at Khartoum, and his stellar goalkeeping kept the Pharoahs at bay. At 25 years of age, he is considered the future of the Fennecs but Raabane's other choice, Lounes Gaouaoui at 32 years of age has far more experience with 48 caps. A bit of trivia: He appears to hold the record for a surname with the most vowels in a row.
Differences in personality remains the issue - Chaouchi is hotheaded and impulsive while Gaouaoui is the calmer and more collected goalkeeper. In the ACN, Chaouchi undid all his good work at Khartoum by aiming a headbutt at referee Coffi Codjia in the semi-final and was suspended from the competition.