Facts & figures: Algeria

Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Algeria: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: Two

Best performance: Group stages in 1982 and 1986

Coach: Rabah Saadane has remarkably returned as a World Cup coach more than two decades after taking his country to their last finals appearance in Mexico in 1986. An ex-international, Saadane has had an intermittent coaching career but was offered the job when a series of French bosses departed without much success. The 63-year-old has also worked in several Arabic countries over the last two decades.

Key players:

Karim Ziani (VfL Wolfsburg). Age: 27. Midfielder

French-born Ziani is representative of the vast majority of Algeria players, who are born in France to immigrant parents and have opted to play for the north African nation. The diminutive Ziani threw in his lot with Algeria before coming to prominence at Lorient, where he was voted Ligue 2's best player, and later Sochaux and Olympique Marseille.

Nadir Belhaj (Portsmouth). Age: 27. Full back

Not many can boast of scoring twice against Argentina but Belhadj achieved the feat in a 4-3 loss in a friendly in Spain two years ago to make a strong statement about his ability, particularly down the left wing where he keenly moves forward from his full back position.

Mourad Meghni (Lazio). Age: 25. Midfield

A recent change to the FIFA statutes has allowed this former French under-21 international to play for Algeria. He made his debut in August and helped in the key qualifying matches.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 28

How they qualified: A dramatic play-off triumph on neutral territory over Egypt was overshadowed by several violent incidents and has strained diplomatic relations between the two countries. Algeria and Egypt had finished tied at the top of their group with goal difference and goals scored unable to separate them.

Prospects: Algeria exceeded all expectations in qualifying for the 2010 finals, overcoming a decade in the doldrums which included failing to qualify for the last two African Nations Cup finals. Their battle against Egypt in the qualifiers was a veritable World Cup final for them and the trip to South Africa is a bonus for their players.