Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra made a lasting impression in his country’s second game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, a clash with Group C favourites England that ended in a surprising goalless draw. The robust centre-back was seemingly omnipresent on the pitch, creating an impenetrable defensive barrier that the England attack, led by an out-of-sorts Wayne Rooney, was incapable of breaching.
While the result secured by Rabah Saadane’s players was well received back home, the Rangers central defender was critical of certain aspects of the performance, judging that his side could have done even better, especially up front. “We’re too apprehensive on the field of play. We’ve been putting together some lovely moves but we need to push forward more often. In my opinion, our next match will be better.”
Bougherra is set to come up against a familiar face, in the form of his Rangers team-mate Maurice Edu, when Les Fennecs take on USA in the third and final match of the group on Wednesday. Bougherra touched upon the encounter, highly anticipated by both sets of fans, in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com: “We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll approach the game as if it’s our World Cup Final. The Americans have a great team with some real battlers. We all saw how they’ve been able to come back strongly in games, irrespective of the scoreline. It’s going to be an exciting match. If we win and England lose or draw, we’ll qualify.”
As regards Algeria’s chances of reaching the Round of 16, the defender could not hide his emotions: “We need to do more against the United States. We’re aware that a win could see us progress from the group stage for the first time in our history. This is a match that could change our lives forever and provide us with one of the most memorable moments of our careers.”
On the opposing side, Maurice Edu played a significant role in his team’s recent comeback against Slovenia. When he replaced Francisco Torres at half-time, the Europeans led 2-0, but the Americans were able to draw level in the second half, and even saw Edu's late volleyed strike ruled out for an infringement. The Stars and Stripes still obtained a precious point, though, an outcome that seemed highly unlikely following their uncertain first-half display. Edu, like Bougherra, also wears his emotions on his sleeve and stated on his Twitter page: “We still can’t believe it, but we know what we’ve got to do now.”
The former Toronto midfielder also shared his thoughts on USA’s chances of qualifying for the Round of 16. He said: “I can’t predict the future but reaching the next phase is our objective. We’re going to take to the pitch against Algeria fully determined to get the win that would put us through to the next round. We’ve got the next few days to prepare for what is a truly crucial match.”