Monday, November 17, 2014

Algeria Greatest All-time team

Algeria 1982

The Algerian national team started playing international matches under the name FLN even before its independence. Abdelaziz Ben Tifour and Mustapha Zitouni who were star players in the French league were behind the FLN national team.  Algeria first made his name in world football when they beat the European Champion West Germany 2-1 at the 1982 WC Finals. They narrowly missed the second round after West Germany beat Austria in one of the most controversial matches in World Cup history.  From 1986 to 2010, they failed to qualify for another WC Finals.  In 2014, they made it to the 2nd round before losing to Germany.

This is my selection of a 23 member all-time team for Algeria. If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament. 

Algeria's win vs West Germany

GK: Mehdi Cerbah
Earned 57 caps, Mehdi Cerbah was the starting keeper of the 1982 World Cup team.  He was voted Algerian Keeper of the Century. He spent most of his career playing for Algerian sides USM Alger, JS Kabylie and RC Kouba. He played one and a half seasons in Canada with NASL side Montreal Manic. He returned to Algeria and finished career in RC Kouba till 1986.

GK: Abderrahmane Boubekeur
Abderrahmane Boubekeur was a goalkeeper with AS Monaco in the 1950's.  He also played for AS Saint-Eugène Alger.  For international football, he played for FLN football team(the national team for National Liberation Front) between 1958 and 1962.  He also played for Algeria after it became independent.

GK: Raïs M'Bolhi
M'Bolhi was born in Paris, France to a Congolese father and Algerian mother. He started playing football (soccer) for RCF Paris. Then, he joined Olympique de Marseille, though he never made a league appearance before his release in January 2006. He played in Turkey, Bulgaria, the USA, Russia, etc. He was capped by France at the youth level before switching to Algeria.  He played in both WC Finals in 2010 and 2014.

Chaabane Merzekane spent most of his career playing for NA Hussein Dey and also had a brief stint with MC Alger.  He was the starting rightback for Algeria at the World Cup Finals in 1982.  he played every minute for that tournament.  He earned Man of the Match Award in the famous victory against West Germany.

CB/RB:  Mustapha Zitouni
Mustapha Zitouni was capped 4 times by France in the late 1950's.  He was on France's 1952 Olympic team.  He went on to represent the FLN football team, and then, Algeria when it became independent.  Zitouni began his career with OM Saint-Eugène in 1950. He then played in France for Cannes, Monaco and Chartres. His longest stint was with AS Monaco between 1954 and 1958. While in Algeria, he played club football for RC Kouba.
Mustapha Zitouni with FLN against West Germany
CB Mahmoud Guendouz 
Guendouz earned 69 caps between 1977 and 1986. He appeared at the 1980 Olympics as well as the FIFA World Cups of 1982 and 1986. He appeared in every minute of both WC Finals. He was considered one of the key players of the 1980's for Algeria. As a club player he was largely based in his homeland, although he also appeared for FC Martigues in France.

CB: Noureddine Kourichi 
Born in France, Noureddine Kourichi chose to represent Algeria. Between 1980 and 1985, he had 30 caps for Algeria. He played in the 1982 and 1986 World Cup Finals. He played in 5 out of six games in those Finals.  For club football, he played with Valenciennes, Girondines Bordeaux and Lille in France.  

SW: Miloud Hadefi
Born in 1949, Miloud Hadefi was considered to be "Beckenbauer" of Africa.  He was nicknamed the "African Kaiser" by Pelé. He was capped 46 times between 1968 and 1979.  He won Gold medal in All-Africa Games in Algiers 1978. He spent his club career at home mainly with MC Oran, and WA Tlemcen.

With over 70 caps, Mahieddine Meftah was one of the most capped players in Algeria. He won the African Cup of Nations in 1990.  He played his club football at home for JS Kabylie(1987-1996 ) and USM Alger (1996-2006 ). With JS Kabylie, he won the African Cup of Champions Clubs in 1990 and African Cup Winners' Cup in 1995.

Born in France of Algerian parents, Faouzi Ghoulam was capped by France at the youth level.  He switched to play for Algeria at the senior level in 2013. He went on to play for Algeria at the World Cup Finals in 2014.  He started his career with AS Saint-Étienne in 2010.  At the time of writing, he plays for Napoli in Italy. He was Algeria Player of the Year in 2017. His brother Nabil is a cross country runner that represented France.
Faouzi Ghoulam
Tahar Chérif El-Ouazzani was a great player at MC Oran.  He would lead the team to the Algerian Cup in 1996 as well as back-to-back Arab Cup Winners Cups in 1997 and 1998.  He also played in Turkey and Morocco. He was voted second-best African player of year in 1990 after Roger Milla(because of his World Cup run that year).  He won the African Cup of Nations the same year.

CM: Moussa Saïb
Moussa Saïb was captain of Algeria's African Cup Nations winning team of 1990.  He was capped 74 times.  He played in France, Spain, England and UAE. He had a long career with Auxerre, where he won Ligue 1 in 1995-1996.  In 1998, he joined struggling English club Tottenham Hotspur for £2.3 million, thus becoming the first Algerian to play in the Premier League

RW: Riyad Mahrez
Born in France, Riyad Mahrez joined Leicester from La Harve in 2014.  He helped Leicester Town to win the Premiership in 2015-2016.  He won the PFA Players' Player of the Year, and was a member of the Premier League PFA Team of the Year as he helped Leicester City win the Premier League.  In 2018, he joined Manchester City. For the national team, he was eligible to play for France. He was selected to play for Algeria at Brazil 2014, but only played in one match. 
Riyad Mahrez
AM/CM:  Ali Fergani Ali Fergani was capped 66 times between 1973 and 1986. He was the playmaker for Algeria at 1982 World Cup in Spain, where Algeria beat West Germany, the reigning European Champion.  He also went to the Olympics in 1980. On the same year, he went to the African Nations of Cup, where Algeria finished second. He was the runner-up at the African Player of the Year award in 1981. Fergani played club football for NA Hussein Dey and JE Tizi-Ouzo.
Ali Fergani
FW:  Abdelaziz Ben Tifour
Abdelaziz Ben Tifour played for France at the 1954 World Cup Finals.  He had a notable career in the French league, especially with Nice.  He was one of the founding member of FLN Algeria national team.  He played for Nice. He moved to Troyes AC after six seasons with Nice in 1954 and then signed for AS Monaco in 1956.

FW:  Salah Assad
Salah Assad was the starting left forward for Algeria at World Cup in 1982. He is the top scorer for Algeria at the World Cup Finals.  For his performance in 1982, he was the runner-up for African Player of the the Year.  He also played in 1986.  He played for RC Kouba, where he won an Algerian tournament in 1981 and one African Cup Winner's Cup, and in France for FC Mulhouse and Paris Saint-Germain FC. 

AM: Lakhdar Belloumi 
Lakhdar Belloumi is considered to be the best Algerian player of all-time.  He scored one of the goals that beat West Germany at the 1982 World Cup Finals. He is voted as the 4th best African player of the century.  He holds the record as the most capped Algerian player with 147 national caps.  He won the African Player of the Year award in 1981. He also played in the 1980 Olympic Games. Despite interests from European clubs, he stayed in Algeria during his career. 
Lakhdar Belloumi
AM/FW: Mustapha Dahleb Dahleb held the record for all-time leading scorer for Paris Saint-Germain in the French first division with 85 goals before being surpassed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  Dahleb is the club's third all-time goalscorer in all competitions, with 98 goals.  Dahleb played with the Algerian national team in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, where Algeria beat West Germany.

SS/FW:  Hacene Lalmas
Nicknamed El Kebch (The Ram), Hacene Lalmas is widely considered to be one of the greatest Algerian player ever.  He was capped 43times between 1963 and 1974. He won 4 league titles with CR Belouizdad. He is the All-time top scorer in the Algerian league with 150 career goal. He was voted as the 14th best player African player of all-time by the CAF.

FW:  Ali Bencheikh
Ali Bencheikh was voted 19th in IFFHS voting for the African player of the century.  He won the African Champions Cup with MC Alger.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1982, where Algeria beat West Germany in the group stage.  He was offered a contract to play with Nantes in France after the WC Finals.  He was the runner-up for the 1978 African Footballer of the Year award

FW:  Djamel Menad
Menad was capped over 80 times.  He went to the Olympics in 1980. He appeared at the 1986 WC Finals in Mexico.  He finished third for the 1986 African Footballer of the Year award.  In 1990. he won the African Cup of Nations where he was the top scorer. For domestic football, he played in France and Portugal as well as in Algeria.

ST: Rachid Mekhloufi 
Rachid Mekhloufi is the all-time leading scorer for Saint-Etienne in France, where he played from 1954 to 1958.  He won 4 Ligue 1 titles with them in the 1960's.  Liked many French-Algerian of his generation, he was capped by France.  He played 4 times for France between 1956 and 1957.  He later played for FLN Algeria national team and then, Algeria after it gained independence. He was the co-manager of the Algeria national football team in the 1982 World Cup.
Rachid Mekhloufi 
ST: Omar Betrouni 
Omar Betrouni was a star in the domestic league during the 1970's in Algeria. He played club football for MC Alger for more than a decade, winning the Algerian league championship five times and the Algerian cup three times. He also led the league in goal-scoring once and helped MC Alger win the 1976 African Cup of Champions Clubs. In 2006, he was selected by CAF as one of the best 200 African football players of the last 50 years.

ST:  Rabah Madjer 
Rabah Madjer is probably the most successful Algerian player in Europe. He scored the first goal of the 2-1 victory over West Germany at the 1982 World Cup Finals.  Five years later, he again broke the Germans' hearts when he scored a goal and set up another as Porto beat Bayern Munich at the European Cup Final in 1987.  He played 87 times for Algeria.  At the club level, he played domestic football in Algeria, France, Qatar and Portugal. As mentioned, Porto was his greatest stint.
Rabah Madjer
Honorable Mention 
Madjid Bougherra, Karim Ziani, Nadir Belhadj, Djamel Mesbah, Said Brahimi, Rabah Gamouh, Abdelhamid Kermali, Islam Slimani, Adlene Guedioura, Abdekhafid Tasfaout.

Squad Explantion
-- Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi are probably Algeria's greatest players.  Madjer won the European Cup with Porto beating Bayern Muinch in the Final.  He scored the equalizing goal. He also scored the opening goal against West Germany in the 1982 World Cup Finals.  The match was better Algeria's greatest ever win in the World Cup Finals. Lakhdar Belloumiwas rated as highly, but he did not have the same exposure in Europe.  People outside of Africa might have forgotten about him.
-- I selected a lot of players from the Golden Generation of the 1980's.  Thy qualified for the World Cup Finals twice while winning the 1990 African Cup of Nations.
-- Mehdi Cerbah, Rabah Madjer, Ali Bencheikh, Ali Fergani, Mustapha Dahleb, Lakhdar Belloumi, Salah Assad, Noureddine Kourichi, Mahmoud Guendouz and Chaabane Merzekane belonged to the generation in the 1980's.
-- Djamel Menad, Tahar Chérif El-Ouazzani and Moussa Saïb did not attend the 1982 World Cup Finals, but they helped Algeria to win the African Cup of Nations.
-- Algeria won the 2019 African Cup of Nations. Raïs M'Bolhi and Riyad Mahrez are already on this all-time team before the tournament. Adlene Guedioura is added to the honorable mention.  All three players were born in France.
-- I considered FLN as the national team of Algeria.  So Abdelaziz Ben Tifour is eligible for this team.   
-- Abdelkader Ben Bouali never played for Algeria. He was capped by France.  He is cap-tied to France.  I ruled him ineligible. Abdelaziz Ben Tifou, meanwhile, also played for FLN.  I saw him as a dual national player just liked Luis Monti of Argentina and Italy.
-- I had a problem finding a leftback. I looked into Nadir Belhadj, Djamel Mesbah and Faouzi Ghoulam.  Despite his youth, I decided to take Ghoulam because he is a consistent starter for both of his clubs. Since selecting him, he has won the Algerian Player of the Year in 2017.
-- I also looked into center-back Madjid Bougherra. I am not familiar with Aissa Draoui.
-- Yacine Brahimi is still too young to be in consideration.
-- Riyad Mahrez won the PFA Players' Player of the Year in England.
-- Hacene Lalmas is often listed as the greatest Algerian player of all-time.
-- Alexandre Villaplane was born in Algeria while it was under France.  He was the captain of the French national at the 1930 World Cup Finals.  He was probably good enough to be selected.  Due to the fact that Algerian national team did not exist during his time, we do not know if he would have played for Algeria.  So I overlooked the fact that he played for France, not Algeria. He should still be given a chance with this all-time team. However, when I measured him against other Algerian players, I decided to leave him out of the team largely because of his war crimes.
-- Rachid Mekhloufi is the all-time leading scorer for Saint-Etienne in France, where he played from 1954 to 1958. He was capped by France, but later played for FLN.

Starting lineup 
I converted Mahieddine Meftah into a leftback.  He played as the left center-back on a 3-back formation at the WC Finals.   Abdelaziz Ben Tifour got the nod because of his contributions to Algerian football.  

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