[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] Algeria, which will meet the USA in their third group match at the World Cup on June 23, selected seven uncapped players --including three for
mer French youth internationals who will need FIFA clearance -- in its preliminary 25-player squad for the World Cup.
But Coach Rabah Saadane's biggest worry is the long list of injured players who'll need to be rehabilitated between now and June 5 when the Desert Foxes leave their training camp in Nuremberg, Germany, for South Africa.
Much of the coverage by the Algerian media of Tuesday's press conference concerned the medical and training staff Algeria had assembled to get its players fit. Saadane mentioned doctors from France, Italy, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
"The fact that we qualified for the World Cup is in itself a good thing, considering we've been absent for 24 years," said Saadane. "We're going to do everything we can to make the second round. This goal will depend on our squad. For the time being, I don't know what squad I'll take to the World Cup. I'd like to work with the backbone of the team, but unfortunately there are many injured players like [Madjid] Bougherra (he's injured but not seriously), [Hassan] Yebda, [Nadir] Belhadj, [Yacine] Bezzaz, [Hameur] Bouazza, [Medhi] Lahcen (he's playing again at Racing Santander), Mourad Meghni. These are all the key players on the national team. We are used to these sort of problems, though. We are going to overcome them, God willing."
Of the players Saadane mentioned, Bezzaz and Bouazza are not on his 25-player list.
The selections include former France under-21 captain Carl Medjani, defender Habib Belaid and Riad Boudebouz. Algeria's national team is loaded with players born in France to Algerian parents. Most began their international careers in the French national team system, but Algeria has taken advantage of FIFA's relaxed rules on players switching national teams to enlist players.
In the World Cup qualifying playoff against Egypt, the Fennecs started eight French-born players, including Meghni and Yebda, who won the 2001 Under-17 World Cup with France.
Other uncapped players are Wolves midfielder Adlane Guedioura, Valenciennes midfielder Fouad Kadir, Lecce defender Djamel Mesbah, and goalkeeper Mbohi Rais Ouhed, who plays in Bulgaria for Slavia Sofia.
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), Anthar Yahia (Bochum, Germany)
Midfielders: Djamel Abdoun (Nantes, France), Riad Boudebouz (Sochaux, France), Adlane Guedioura (Wolves, England), Fouad Kadir (Valenciennes, France), Medhi Lacen (Racing Santander, Spain), Yazid Mansouri (Lorient, France), Mourad Meghni (Lazio, Italy), Hassan Yebda (Portsmouth, England), Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg, Germany).
Forwards: Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens, Greece), Abdelkader Ghezzal (Siena, Italy), Karim Matmour (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany), Rafik Saifi (Istres, France).