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Looking at Algeria in the Cup of African Nations

Picture 45 300x203 Looking at Algeria in the Cup of African Nations

The Desert Foxes began the Cup of African Nations in the worst possible fashion. A three to nill thrashing at the hands of Malawi squarely placed under fire Manager Rabah Saadane close to the sack. In the match Algeria, was terrible for the first forty minutes and then simply poor for the final fifty minutes.

Madjid Bougherra whose stellar play has helped made Rangers the runaway leaders in the SPL was partially responsible for both Malawi’s first half goals. It seemed even the top Algerian players did not want to be at the Cup of African Nations and worse yet did not want to play for Saadane.

It is a very rare thing when in world football, a side loses the first match of the group stage 3-0, but even rarer when that same team only scores one goal in its final two matches, yet picks up four points and advances to the knock out stages.

In the second match, Algeria were heavy underdogs against a Mali side that had scored four goals in fifteen minutes to draw with Angola 4-4. Mali has for years been the next big thing in African Football, and why not when you look at the list of their top players. Frederic Kanoute, Seydou Keita and several other highlight the Mali squad.

But in this match, Algeria’s width and organization at the back crushed the Mali attack. The Desert Foxes may have conceded much of the possession but dictated the shape of the game as well as the style of the play. A 1-0 victory for Algeria over a strong side reminded us exactly how the team had qualified for the World Cup in the first place. Strong tactical sense and  staying in the proper shape defensively were the key to the victory.

The third group match against Angola was a cynically disgraceful, possibly pre-mediated 0-0 draw that saw both teams advance to the knock out stages of the tournament. Algeria of course, was the victim of perhaps the most cynical draw in World Cup history in 1982, and recently we saw Italy and Mexico play in a similar fashion in the final group match of the 2002 World Cup.

The match has come under intense scrutiny from the international football press. But Mali, who represents the victim in this situation, had an opportunity to draw or defeat Algeria but did not perform well. Malawi, who finished last in the group, slumped to two successive defeats after crushing the Desert Foxes.

So Algeria, in summary found a grittiness and resourcefulness to advance in a difficult group, in a competition they did not particularly focus on and with a coach much of the team does not want to play for. What does this teach us for the United States this summer?

1- Algeria has outstanding wide play and a strong tactical sense: The US may want to employ a similar tactical setup as Bob Bradley did versus Spain. Push your defenders into two lines of four organized well in the middle of pitch,  conceding the flanks to the Desert Foxes and hitting Algeria on the counter. Recall, that Spain for all the hype about out-shooting the US,  29-9 really only generated all of one real good goal scoring chance against this past June. The problem is, if Algeria simply needs a draw to advance, they will not allow the US to play this way and may in fact concede possession to the Americans, leaving us in the same position Mali found itself last week.

2- Algeria’s defending is generally well organized when they are leading or not attacking, but when the Desert Foxes push forward they leave gaps at the back. These gaps can be exploited quickly on the counter attack by Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and if healthy and selected, DaMarcus Beasley.

3- Algeria is a cynical team: This sounds terrible, but in both World Cup qualifying and in the CAN we have seen plenty of “simulation,” and negative football. This could pose a problem for the US, who has had trouble adjusting to the officiating standards of FIFA competitions recently.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC. View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →
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10 Responses to Looking at Algeria in the Cup of African Nations

  1. Dave Trotter says:

    How dare you talk about Algeria! :)

  2. nick says:

    What is NASL’s official position on this issue?

  3. sam says:

    Algeria and the US will have a very good and intertaining match for all of us, i can’t wait to see that and let the best team on the day win!!!
    Go Algeria! Go Obama!

    Salim

  4. baer says:

    Please recall comments about David Rosales. Our apologies.

  5. Paula says:

    Can you give us examples of this alleged simulation Do not lie please The Algerians defeated Egypt twice although they have been stoned and injured by the Egyptians and they defetated Rwanda 3-1 although the referee denied two gols that Algeria scored and let Rwanda waste at least 35 minutes of the game! The positive thing in your article is that you stated to realize that Algeria has a very strong team

  6. best algeria says:

    We are coming .. wait us in south africa .. one two tree viva l’algerie

  7. hacen says:

    “”"”Algerian players did not want to be at the Cup of African Nations and worse yet did not want to play for Saadane.”"”" where did you get this?
    ####Algeria is a cynical team: This sounds terrible###that sound ugly
    ##we have seen plenty of “simulation,” and negative football### strange when was that?
    thanks anyway for the comment , and wish your team the best

  8. usa says:

    Divers = Wankers. Comments from Algerian fans = typical crap you here from diving teams “what, who, us? noooooo never.” I’m happy you guys beat Egypt but realize that diving pisses most fans off more than anything else in the sport, save for handballs that decide games.

  9. Billy says:

    Algeria is a joke. We beat them 3-0 like we beat Egypt.

    They are nothing, even if the new podcast host here, thinks otherwise.

    http://www.worldsoccerdigest.com/2009/12/17/1204094/the-club-of-common-cold-group-c

  10. Paul says:

    Please pull this comment–rude and inconsiderate.

    Although I do feel that video evidence for K’s said assertion should be provided. Is it possible to get video and/or times for simulations?

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