Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra has told FIFA.com that a lack of respect from the English media helped to inspire Les Fennecs in their Group C clash in Cape Town.
As soon as the Final Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, was made, the English newspaper The Sun published a headline with their reaction proclaiming "EASY: England, Algeria, Slovenia, Yanks." Even after the Three Lions' 1-1 draw with USA, many publications were predicting a comfortable victory for Fabio Capello's men against the north Africans.
Speaking after the game, Bougherra was cheered by the knowledge that Algeria had made their point – in more ways than one. "It really feels like a win," he said. "I was reading the English newspapers before the game and they were saying that Algeria had no chance. They expected England to win comfortably. That helped to give us a spirit, a unity.
"When you play in the World Cup, every team deserves respect and I didn't think we had that going into this game. It is true that we're a squad with little experience and we have no big-name players and so we have to play as a team. We play for our country, we enjoy playing together and slowly we're showing the world that we're a young team building for the future."
The Rangers defender was outstanding throughout the 90 minutes, with his tackles, interceptions and clearances frustrating Wayne Rooney and Co. However, the 27-year-old believes that following an injury-plagued season which saw him feature just 16 times for his club, he is nowhere near his optimum level.
“It wasn't one of my best performances, far from it," he said. "I've played much better games for Algeria before. I'm not even 100 per cent fit. I've been injured for the best part of two months and during that time I've only played two matches, so I haven't really been able to get back to my top level of fitness. So, it's not the best Madjid at the moment. I was just desperately trying tonight to help my team keep a clean sheet and I'm really happy that we did."
Bougherra was also happy to think about a return to domestic football north of the English border, where the goalless draw will have been received almost as joyously as it was in Algiers. "Yes, I might be even more of a hero in Scotland now," he laughed. "I don't know how they'll react when I get back, but playing in Britain has really helped my game. Yet despite the experience you've still got to get the basics right – and that's concentrating for 90 minutes and that's what we did today."
Despite the post-match elation, the France-born defender offered words of encouragement to his disappointed opponents, claiming that they could still make a big impact at South Africa 2010. "You could see that England have good players and if you look at other big teams in World Cups they go slowly and finish strongly. I think that's going to happen with them."