Algeria booked their place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after a fiercely contested final qualifying round that culminated in a showdown with long-time rivals Egypt. The third and final phase finished with the two teams level on points and goal difference at the top of Group C, necessitating a play-off on 18 November 2009 in Omdurman, Sudan. Following a tense build-up to the encounter, Algeria eventually prevailed 1-0 thanks to an Anthar Yahia strike, heralding their return to the world stage after a 24-year absence. Algeria’s first bid to reach the showpiece tournament came ahead of the 1970 edition, although it would not be until 1982 that the Desert Foxes made it through to the finals. The side repeated the feat at the next edition in 1986, crushing fellow north Africans Tunisia 7-1 over two matches in the final qualifying round.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Algeria have played in a total of three FIFA World Cup finals. They got off to the best possible start at the 1982 edition in Spain, beating West Germany 2-1 in their opening game and in the process becoming the first African team to win a match in the competition. Despite a 3-2 victory over Chile in their final group game, an earlier 2-0 loss to Austria meant that while level on points with the latter, they were eliminated on goal difference. Mexico 1986 was less memorable for the north African side. Drawn in Group D with Brazil, Spain and Northern Ireland, two defeats and a draw left them bottom of the table and on the first flight home. Nor were things much better at South Africa 2010. Pitted against England, USA and Slovenia, they lost twice and drew their other fixture, departing the competition without a goal to their name.
The current crop
The qualifying phase of the 2012 CAF Africa Nations Cup was hugely disappointing for the Desert Foxes. They finished qualifying in third place and now must look ahead to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and African Cup of Nations 2013 under the new leadership of Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, South Africa 2010 (Group stages)
Former stars: Lakhdar Belloumi, Rachid Mekhloufi, Mustapha Zitouni