Algeria's women target African breakthrough
Despite their premature exit from the 2014 CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations, the Algerians performed creditably in Namibia
They did not, however, qualify for Cameroon 2016
Hopes of qualifying for the 2018 Cup of Nations in Ghana and the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ are high
Algeria’s men’s team made quite an impression at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, where they reached the knockout stages for the first time in their history.
Subsequently, the U-23 side qualified for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, 34 years after the North African nation’s last appearance at that level. Algerian football fans celebrated this double success in style, but the women’s players were unable to properly join in the party, having failed to qualify for the 2016 CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The gifted Rayan Brahimi is one such player, having graduated from Algeria’s U-17 and U-23 teams to the senior women's side in 2013. "Women’s football has had many ups and downs in Algeria," she told FIFA.com. "Things are gradually improving, though, and the sport is really developing here. There’s been a lot of progress over the past few years, but we have to keep working hard to catch up with other nations. We also have to improve our grassroots training and adopt a long-term strategy which will guarantee a future for women’s football in our country."
Plaudits in 2014 Algeria took part in the 2014 Cup of Nations, in Namibia, where they played well despite exiting at the group stage, and where a lack of luck and experience counted against them. Expectations were high that the same squad of talented footballers would go even further at Cameroon 2016, but they failed to advance from the qualifying competition.
Left-back Nesrine Bara made her debut for Algeria in a friendly encounter with Senegal and also starred at Namibia 2014, and she has since established herself in the starting XI. "We got knocked out in the first round in 2014, but we got a lot of credit for our performances,” she explained. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the 2016 tournament, because we just couldn’t get past Kenya in the qualifiers."
Target: Ghana 2018 Subsequently, the women’s football community in Algeria has decided to put that setback behind it and focus on the future. "Our goal is now to qualify for the 2018 Cup of Nations," confirmed Bara. "We have an excellent group who play in our domestic league and abroad. We’re determined to succeed."
Brahimi is convinced that she and her team-mates have what it takes to shine in Ghana, as long as certain conditions are met. "Our players’ general skill level is high. The Cup of Nations is not a pipe dream, as long as we put the work in and line up some friendly matches so as to make our team more cohesive."
The 2018 Africa Women's Cup of Nations will be held in Ghana, and the top three teams will qualify for the Women’s World Cup. Algeria are aiming to make it to the global stage for the first time.
French aspirations Any female footballer dreams of one day taking part in the Women’s World Cup, and the Algerians are no exception, especially as France, the host nation in 2019, is close by and boasts a large Algerian community. "If we put in more work at club level, not only can we qualify for the Cup of Nations, but we can also win it and participate in the Women’s World Cup in France," said Bara.
Brahimi, meanwhile, believes that Algeria should take a leaf out of South American countries’ books in order to flourish at continental level. "Like they’ve done, we have to start qualifying regularly for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. We’re well positioned in Algeria to make women’s football a big success. What we need to do is work hard and take a long-term approach to planning."