Ready to outfox opponents

Algeria, playing in consecutive World Cups for the second time in its history, is in Brazil with a strong squad, benefitting from FIFA’s new eligibility criteria. The induction of a number of foreign-born Algerians, who have combined well with the local talent, have surely strengthened the squad, now coached by former Yugoslavia youth international Vahid Halilhodzic.

After a close qualifying run, ‘Les Fennecs’ are now looking to make the most of this opportunity and make a bid to go past the Group stage. After a relatively unremarkable campaign in South Africa in 2010, Halilhodzic has virtually rebuilt the squad, scouting some promising young talents. Particularly in attack, the likes of Yasine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli, Islam Slimani and Nabil Bentaleb can be a handful to any opponent.

Granada midfielder Brahimi has done well in the La Liga, his great dribbling skills drawing comparisons with the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo. Thus rightly, the form of the Paris-born medio will be integral to the team’s chances of making it to the second round. 19-year-old playmaker, Nabil Bentaleb, who had a brilliant season with Tottenham Hotspur, is also another of Halilhodzic’s favourites and will have an important role to play.

Another key player in the disposition will be Feghouli, who opted to play for Algeria, despite his eligibility to appear for France — the county of his birth. The Valencia player gives Algeria an added attacking dimension and remains the team’s spearhead with his experience and form.

Halihodzic’s main challenge however, is in defence, where he has failed to attract the right talent. But, the upright coach, who has been able to infuse confidence in his side, will bank on the tenacity and unity of his players to shock reputed opponents.