Algeria coach Rabah Saadane insists his decision to drop captain Yazid Mansouri from the team for tomorrow's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Group C encounter with Slovenia has not had an adverse impact on the team.
Saadane made the decision on Thursday after revealing he did not think the 32-year-old former Coventry midfielder, Algeria's most experienced player at the FIFA World Cup with 67 caps, was in good enough form.
Mansouri has remained with the squad and is expected to be on the bench in Polokwane. Defender Anther Yahia will wear the captain's armband while Hassan Yebda, who spent this season on loan at Portsmouth from Benfica, could replace Mansouri in midfield.
Asked whether the decision to drop Mansouri had affected morale within the squad Saadane, who also led Algeria in their last FIFA World Cup appearance in 1986 in Mexico, said: "I think the team has become used to playing a large number of matches with some people missing.
"We have always tried to work from a psychological and technical perspective as a team and we will work with the team that is on the pitch on the day. It is how the team responds collectively on the day which will decide how we play. I will put people on the pitch who are psychologically and technically ready for the match. If there are any weaknesses then the spirit of the group will carry us forward."
Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra said the players tried not to be distracted by the fuss surrounding Mansouri as most were looking forward to playing in their first World Cup after a semi-final finish in the CAF African Nations Cup earlier this year.
"This is like a dream which has come true and we are very happy to be here," he said. "The African Nations Cup was good for us. We are confident we are in the top five of the African teams. We are going to feel the pressure and it will be a difficult match tomorrow but we are very much ready in our minds and I very much hope our legs go with us.
"I think our spirit, our soul is very much there. We will raise the flag and I don't believe we will lose this spirit. We are a very well integrated team and I think we will play very much as a collective together."