Algeria stand-in captain fit for first match

POLOKWANE, June 12 (Reuters) - Algeria's replacement captain Antar Yahia said he was fit to play in the team's opening World Cup match against Slovenia on Sunday despite suffering a slight shin injury.

Defender Yahia will wear the captain's band in the team's first game at a World Cup finals in 24 years after coach Rabah Saadane dropped Yazid Mansouri because of his poor form.

"Everything's fine today," Yahia told reporters after a delayed training session in Polokwane. "It was just a bit of a blow to the tibia and it caused more fear than it did injury - I will very much be there for the match tomorrow."

Saadane admitted his side was not at full strength because of injuries and its spirit would have to make up for a lack of form.

"It's not perfect because we have had a lot of injury problems and there are some players who are not on top form but I think we can compensate for this," he said.

He acknowledged his team was considered the weakest in Group C which includes England and the United States but said they stood a good chance against Slovenia.

"On paper they may be superior to us but that doesn't bother us," he said. "We are learning and have everything to win even though we are the team considered to be the weakest in the group."

Saadane, the only African coach involved in the first World Cup finals to be held on the continent, said while foreign managers had helped nurture African teams' skills, he hoped other sides would trust homegrown talent in the future.

Algeria qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1986 after beating African champions Egypt in a tense playoff in Sudan last year.