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Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Algeria delight in 2010 place

By James Copnall
BBC Sport

Algeria celebrate qualification
Getting to the World Cup finals was a huge achievement for Algeria

Algeria's World Cup qualification underlined a surprising renaissance from a country that was once one of the great powers of African football.

You have to go back to 1990 for Algeria's one Nations Cup win, and to the previous decade for the country's two World Cup participations.

So Antar Yahia's thunderous winner in the playoff against Egypt sparked epic Algerian celebrations.

It also illustrated a startling truth about this team.

The crucial goal came from the right back - an indication that this side attacks from all over the pitch.

Yahia was his team's joint top scorer in qualifying, alongside the midfielder Karim Ziani, and the veteran striker Rafik Saifi.

But the fact that no-one on the Algerian squad managed more than three goals, in 13 qualifying games, reveals that the side lacks a top class goal-scorer.

How Algeria qualified for the World Cup

The Fennecs (a sort of desert fox) managed only 19 goals in those games, and will be tested by tougher defences in South Africa.

Veteran coach Rabah Saadane lead his nation to the World Cup in 1986 and will undoubtedly be scouring Europe for strikers with Algerian links.

Already many of the squad are French-born players with dual nationality, like Ziani, and defenders Nadir Belhadj, Majid Bouherra and Yahia.

The squad is effective in defence and solid in midfield but unless a top class striker can be found, they will surely struggle.

Algerian fans are ecstatic they are back at the World Cup, and won't have too many unrealistic expectations.

After all, they lost to Gambia and could only draw with Liberia in this qualifying campaign.

But the resurgence of Algerian football, capped off by the World Cup qualification, has made millions of Algerians very happy indeed.

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see also
Super expectations for Nigeria
03 Dec 09 |  African
Bafana fans wait for 'miracle'
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Lions seek spirit of Italia '90
03 Dec 09 |  African
Elephants bid for African history
03 Dec 09 |  African
Black Stars experience is key
03 Dec 09 |  African
2010 World Cup
25 Oct 09 |  African
Who has qualified for South Africa 2010?
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
World Cup 2010 map
05 Dec 09 |  Football

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