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Desert Foxes growing in strength
by Paul Kennedy, June 19th, 2010 2AM

TAGS:  men's national team, world cup


[ENGLAND-ALGERIA] Algeria coach Rabah Saadane was not surprised at his team's strong game in its 0-0 tie with England on Friday.

The performance was in sharp contrast to the Desert Foxes' opening game they lost to Slovenia, 1-0, and sets the stage for their final group game against the USA on Wednesday in Pretoria.

An Algerian win would put it in the second round of the World Cup for the first time.

"I got our injured players rather late," Saadane said of Algeria's pre-tournament camp, "and certain players only recovered just before the World Cup. It took some time to get better but we've improved from game to game. We were more confident compared to the first game. There was also some quality in our game."

The major change in the Algeria lineup was Rais Ouben Mbohi in goal in place of the injured Fawzi Chaouchi. Saadane came in for criticism for taking Mbohi, a virtual unknown discovered playing in Bulgaria.

"When I picked Mbohi," he said, "everyone criticized me. I said I'd reserve my response for what would happen on the field. I hope my critics saw what happened."

Mbohi had the game's big save, stopping Frank Lampard on a low shot to the near post.

Saadane said he wasn't concerned about the status of key midfielders Karim Ziani and Hassan Yebda, who both left the game with injuries.

But he admitted he's under intense pressure to get the Desert Foxes to the second round.

"It's a heavy responsibility," he said.

  1. Christopher Holden
    commented on: June 19, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.
    For Algeria to go through they'd need to beat Team USA by two goals (assuming England beats Slovenia by one). So far Algeria have scored 0 goals in two games and have only given up one goal (so -1 goal differential while Slovenia is + 1). Algeria needs to win and England wins by two or more, or they win by two or more and England win by one ... that's the only way Algeria makes it through Group C. Those are two very unlikely scenarios no matter how well the coach says his team is playing. They haven't scored a goal in two games and they are still mathematically in it - that alone is a miracle.

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