On this week’s main report, we continue our look at some of the countries who have qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. This week we feature one of the teams that made it through from the African section and who are also currently taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations, Algeria. Vocabulary support can be found for the words in bold at the foot of the post.
Listen to the report here
In qualifying for the South Africa World Cup, Les Fennecs or the Desert Foxes, came through a very tough group which included Zambia and huge rivals Egypt. In fact, they finished joint top of the table with the Egyptians and since they both had an identical record, including head-to-head, a play-off was needed to decide which of the two sides would play in South Africa. The tie-breaking game was held in neutral Sudan and the tension was enormous as there is no love lost between these two nations when it comes to football. The Algerians won thanks to a goal from Yahia which meant they would be appearing in their third ever World Cup finals.
They were drawn to play in Group C where their opponents will be England, the USA and Slovenia meaning that the African side feels they have a good chance of making it to the knock-out stage for the first time in their history. Of course, this could have been completely different had it not been for a shameful conspiracy that took place between Austria and West Germany in the 1982 World Cup in Spain when Algeria won two of their three group matches – including a famous 2-1 victory over the West Germans – but still did not make it through. The team returned to the World Cup again in 1986 but once more failed to make it out of the group.
Those sides had real quality in them – Belloumi, who scored against the Germans was an African player of the Year, while Rabeh Madjar scored the famous European Cup winning goal in 1987 against Bayern Munich. But what about this year’s squad? Unfortunately for the Algerians there is no stand-out player this time round but they do have many players plying their trade in many of the top leagues in Europe. From the Premier League, Kamel Ghilas plays for Hull City, while Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda both play with Portsmouth. Midfielder Karim Ziani was an important part of the 2009 Bundesliga champions side Wolfsburg, while another export to the Bundesliga, Karim Matmour of Borussia Moenchengladbach, will probably line up with him in the centre of the pitch. Though their playing style is similar to that of Egypt, where they differ from their North African rivals is in attack as they struggle to score goals – they will be relying heavily on 35-year old veteran Rafik Saïfi to help them out.
Now their current FIFA ranking is a highly-respectable 26th so they will certainly be no pushovers in the finals and if they get off to a good start against Slovenia on the 13th June then who knows they may well turn into one of the surprise packages of the tournament.
identical: Exactly the same, no differences at all
there is no love lost: The teams hate each other!
head-to-head: When the two teams faced/played each other
a shameful conspiracy: The two teams (Austria and West germany seemed to agree on a result before they met in their group match. After the Germans went ahead both sides sat back and did nothing knowing that the result would allow both teams to qualify) Read more here.
stand-out player: A star player, a top player
plying their trade: Working, playing football
pushovers: Easy to beat