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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK

1982: Algeria shock the world

By Said Chitour
BBC Sport Online, Algiers

16 June 1982 was a great moment for the African game.

In front of 25,000 fans at the El Molinon stadium in Gijon, Algeria's Desert Warriors turned football on its head, defeating West Germany 2-1.

It was a win that was not in the tournament's script.

Ali Ferghani was the captain of that Algerian World Cup team which included Rabah Madjer, Lakhdar Belloumi, Salah Assad and Djamel Menad.

"We played a different type of football, which had never been seen before," Ferghani told BBC Sport Online.

"It was a concoction of German, French and Latin styles."

No fear

Rabah Madjer, who scored the first goal against the Germans, said team unity was the major factor behind their historic win.

"We were a solid group that had been together since 1979," Madjer recalled.

The West Germans had little regard for the skills of the North Africans.

The 1980 European champions had Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, goalkeeper Toni Schumacher, Paul Breitner and Pierre Littbarski in their impressive line-up.

But Madjer said they were not intimidated.

"We played without complex and won that match with our own brand of football.

"In my opinion, Germany had the best team in that tournament, which made the victory a very special one," Madjer said.

Great qualities

Managed by Mahieddine Khalef, the team remains the best in Algerian football history.

The Desert Warriors had speed, stamina and a penchant for entertaining football.

But the euphoria of their victory made them lose focus in their subsequent game against Austria, losing 3-2.

"After beating Germany we were still over the moon, that is why we paid the price against Austria," Salah Assad said.

But they recovered from that defeat to beat Chile 3-2.

Disappointment

With two wins and a loss, Algeria looked forward to a second round berth. But it was not to be.

22 years have not dimmed Lakhdar Belloumi's bitter feelings about the factors that led to their exit.

"The Germans and Austrians played an arrangement to eliminate us by goal difference. It was what we called the match of shame," an angry Belloumi said.

"Austria let in two goals, so that their European neighbours Germany could go through."

Despite the way Algeria were eliminated from Spain '82, the Desert Warriors forced the football fraternity to recognize the skill and potential of African football.


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