Rafik Saifi has long been described as one of the leading lights of Algerian football, and the 35-year-old veteran shows no inclination to depart the sporting stage just yet, displaying the same enthusiasm for the game as he did at the beginning of his professional career in the early 1990s. It was at the tender age of 17 that Saifi began to make a name for himself as a veritable goal machine at modest Algerian club, Bordj El Kifane. He had short stays at three different teams before he opted for a little more stability at Mouloudia Club d’Alger in 1996. Three successful seasons in the nation’s capital concluded with the attack-minded player picking up his first league winner’s medal in 1999. Despite being a firm favourite with supporters in Algiers, Saifi nevertheless then decided that it was time to try his luck abroad. He signed for French outfit, Troyes, and it was a decision he would not regret, winning over the fans just as convincingly as he had back home. In five seasons spent in the historic province of Champagne, he endeared himself to the fans, especially by deciding to remain at the club despite their relegation to Ligue 2.
Saifi would eventually move on, however, with newly-promoted Istres his next destination. Even though his own performances were exemplary, he experienced the disappointment of demotion once again, and in the space of three seasons, Saifi spent time at Ajaccio and Lorient, with varying levels of success. With the prospect of retirement on the horizon, he took on another, quite different challenge, putting his free-scoring services at the disposal of Al Khor in Qatar. However, despite adapting well to an unfamiliar environment and scoring on his debut, Saifi’s frequent tours of international duty did not sit well with his new employers. They subsequently sent him out on loan earlier this year, providing the nimble midfielder-cum-forward with the opportunity to rejoin Istres and Ligue 2.
In the international arena, Saifi made his first appearance for Algeria back in 1998, in a friendly match against Bulgaria. Since then, he has been a regular for his country, impressing to such an extent that he was included in the team of the tournament at the 2002 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Mali, despite Les Fennecs’ untimely elimination. In all, Saifi can count 60 caps and 20 goals for Algeria, and is one of coach Rabah Saadane’s key players. During his country’s 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying campaign, Saifi again showed his worth to the team, grabbing important goals, especially in the crucial matches against Zambia. A constant threat in the opposing penalty area, the evergreen goalscorer possesses skill in abundance and exhibits real passion when defending the colours of his country.