Foxes up for the fight
For Gills fan Jon Green, adopting Algeria was an easy choice... Both teams are consistently inconsistent.
Last Updated: 09/06/10 11:49am
There's something about the World Cup, much like the beginning of any football season, which grips an individual and forces them to instil unwarranted hope and belief into a group of players destined to collapse in the quarter finals.
It's escapism at its finest - although international tournaments are less of a way to hide from the realities of life and more an attempt to forget whatever horrors the season has thrown at you. Unless, of course, you find yourself adopting a team who bear more than a slight resemblance to your own.
Algeria and Gillingham may not seem very similar on the surface, but they both suffer from the most frustrating ailment any team will face - inconsistency!
The Desert Foxes - the only North African team to qualify for this year's tournament - are a breed prone to schizophrenia. Their performances in the African Cup of Nations saw them fight to a 3-2 victory over the Ivory Coast, just days after losing 3-0 to lowly Malawi. However, during qualification the Algerians have become a more solid and interdependent force.
To make it to the finals for only the third time, they faced a dramatic play-off tie against rivals Egypt. Both teams finished all square in the qualifying group and eventually Algeria overcame The Pharoahs.
Now that they've made it, what can we expect to see? That depends entirely on which Algeria turn up.
The team that we all want to witness are the one who are adept defensively, disciplined in midfield but with the pace to overcome the uninspiring play of the Slovenian side they will meet on Sunday. Anything else could be erring on disastrous.
Coach Rabah Saadane, who is now in his fifth stint in charge of the country, is likely to set up with a variation of the 3-4-2-1 formation used most recently in their 1-0 win over UAE.
While most of Algeria's players will remain a mystery to the majority of English fans, there will be some familiar faces in and around the starting 11 on Sunday afternoon.
Hassan Yebda and Nadir Belhadj both played in the Premier League for Portsmouth and will be likely starters. The former, along with Yazid Mansouri, will create the midfield protection for the three centre halves, whilst offering support to the lone striker.
Other recognisable names are Adlene Guedioura, currently on loan at Wolverhampton, and Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra.
Opposition eyes will, naturally, be trained on the front man, whether it be the young and promising Ghezzal from Siena or the more experienced figure of Rafik Saifi. Although they have no influential striker, the support of the midfield and their ability to press from the back will provide suitable opportunities in front of goal.
What of Algeria's chances in the tournament? Let's face it, much like Gillingham's season it could be a complete flop. The real success was qualification. However, they will bring a determination and spirit to Group C that has only been strengthened by their uneasy ride to the finals.
Could they sneak into second spot and progress to the last 16? It's doubtful but they'll play with immeasurable amounts of passion and pride - and if you've got the fight, who knows what a little bit of luck can achieve.
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