Recently named in the Algeria squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, winger Sofiane Feghouli is on the point of fulfilling his boyhood dream of playing in the biggest footballing show of all. Born in Paris, Feghouli spent his childhood watching international football on TV, following the fortunes of his native France in particular.
“Playing in the World Cup is a very important step in my career,” he told FIFA.com. “It’s a dream I’ve had since I was a kid and now it’s going to come true. I used to watch the competition on TV and I supported France when they beat Brazil in the 1998 Final thanks to two Zinedine Zidane headers. In a few days I won’t be a spectator any more. I’ll be part of it all, playing in front of millions of people.”
Feghouli has gone from being a relative unknown with unheralded Grenoble to an undisputed first-choice with Valencia, one of the biggest teams in Spain. Still only 24, the talented midfielder has proved a thorn in the side of many a Spanish defence with his gift for scoring magical goals and serving up pinpoint assists.
His stock is rising all the time, though he believes he can achieve more after a season that ended in disappointment when Sevilla ousted Valencia from the UEFA Europa League semi-finals with a dramatic stoppage-time goal.
Reflecting on that setback, he said: “I’m not happy with my season at Valencia because I wasn’t able to win my first trophy with the club. Sevilla knocked us out in the semi-finals, but we had a great run I think we deserved to make the final.”
The experience and know-how Feghouli has acquired in the Spanish top flight will no doubt prove useful as he bids to guide Les *Fennecs *to their first world finals win since 1982. Voted Algerian Player of the Year in 2012, the Valencia wide man is now hoping to replicate the success he has had in Spain with his national side.
“Playing in La Liga has really helped my game come on a lot because it’s one of the best leagues in the world,” he said. “This is my fourth season in Spain and I’m improving every year, all of which should help the national team. I just hope I can give them the little bit extra they need in the World Cup.”
Grounds for optimism
Algeria are set to take part in their fourth world finals, having appeared at Spain 1982, Mexico 1986 and South Africa 2010. Though Les Fennecs failed to win a game on their last appearance, Feghouli is confident Brazil 2014 will be an entirely different experience for the side and believes they have every chance of reaching the knockout phase. To do that they will need to take a top-two spot in Group H, where Belgium, Russia and Korea Republic will provide the opposition.
Assessing their chances of doing just that, Feghouli, who made his Algeria debut two years ago, said: “I think we’ve got a great chance of reaching the second round of the World Cup. It’s an open group, although Belgium are the favourites. They’ve got a team full of great players who are all doing well in the big leagues.”
He added: “All four teams could go through, but if we get our preparations right after a tough season, I feel things could swing in our favour.”
Feghouli and his fellow Fennecs are not lacking in belief as they head to Brazil: “We are very optimistic. I love challenges and I play to win. Our sole objective is to qualify, and all the players are determined and ready to excel themselves and play some entertaining football for our fans. Our results haven’t been that great at previous World Cups and I just hope that Brazil will bring us some luck.”
Whether Feghouli and his team-mates reach the last 16 or not, the enterprising midfielder will be doing all he can to show that he is one of Algerian football’s most valuable assets and to keep on breaking new ground in his hugely promising career.