Even the most pessimistic of England supporters cannot have expected Fabio Capello’s men to look so unconvincing against Algeria as the teams played out a goalless stalemate in 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Group C on Friday. As it was, no one who watched the encounter at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town can have failed to be impressed by the sheer determination displayed by Les Fennecs as they gave everything for the full 90-plus minutes.
Working together, the north Africans were able to hold England at bay with some comfort and, whenever the Three Lions did get a glimpse of goal, Rais M’Bohli proved himself worthy of his place between the posts. Rabah Saadane’s troops also provided an attacking threat courtesy of impressive trio Karim Ziani, Ryad Boudebouz and Hassan Yebda, with defenders Madjid Bougherra and Rafik Halliche likewise catching the eye as they constantly harassed the England frontline.
Despite only coming away with a single point, the Algeria players were suitably delighted with their performance against a team touted as serious contenders for the global title. After the match, they expressed their desire to do even better on Wednesday, when a victory against USA could take them through to the Round of 16.
“It was a difficult match, but the Algeria team proved itself up to the task,” commented captain Anther Yahia. “We even had chances to win the game. We showed the best of ourselves and that’s how we’ll need to play against the United States to win and qualify for the last 16.”
The Bochum defender also took pleasure in underlining how Algeria’s collective effort made a mockery of many people’s pre-match predictions. “We never had any doubts about the ability of this team and we were capable of winning this match,” he said. “We didn’t start doubting ourselves because we were up against a great team. Algeria are a great team as well.”
Having raised their level following their initial loss to Slovenia, when they nonetheless put in a fine team display, Yahia now expects Algeria to build on their momentum. “We’ll play very well in our next match and we’ll get a win,” he predicted.
As for striker Karim Matmour, he was pleased that the supposed gulf between the two teams did not prevent Les Fennecs from frustrating Capello’s charges. “It was a difficult match between a great England side and an Algeria side full of ambition,” he told FIFA.com.
“We played well today and got ourselves a good point. The English didn’t expect a result like this. Before the game, we were the underdogs because we were taking on England with all their history. I think we proved we could have beaten them.” Looking ahead, he added: “The next match will be the last one in the group stage. It will be an open game and I promise all the Algerian fans that we’ll win.”
Hassan Yebda was similarly keen to reassure supporters, vowing an even better performance against the US and a berth in the knockout phase. “We did a good job against a great team and got a draw and a well-deserved point,” explained the midfielder. “We have a chance of qualifying if we win against the Americans. I promise everyone who supports Algeria that we’ll play well, and after that we’ll see how far we can go in the competition.”