Goal drought ends Algerian adventure

JOHANNESBURG - Algeria's long-standing problem in front of goal again proved their undoing but the north Africans said they had learnt much despite going out of the World Cup at the first stage.

A dramatic last gasp defeat to the United States in Pretoria on Wednesday condemned Algeria to last place in Group C, with just a single point from their three games and no goals.

A 0-0 draw with England last Friday will become a long-standing highlight but coach Rabah Saadane said he believed the Algeria side, whose qualification for the tournament in South Africa was a surprise after years in the doldrums, were now headed to an exciting future.

"We didn't expect miracles at the World Cup," he said in matter-of-fact tone after the loss at Loftus Versfeld. "But we are satisfied despite going out.

"We've learnt a great deal and acquired a lot of experience. It's a step by step process."

Algeria's scoring woes stretch back several years and are highlighted by the fact they have not scored a goal in open play since January's African Nations Cup quarter-final win over the Ivory Coast.

In seven matches since, their only goal has come from a penalty in a pre-World Cup warm-up against the United Arab Emirates.

"Our attacking sector needs more effort. We have to seek some new players to help find a solution," added the coach.

Saadane has been major proponent of searching the large Algerian immigrant community in France for international class players. After qualification, he added nine French-born footballers to his squad, although of the newcomers only Fouad Kadir started all three of their World Cup finals matches.


The introduction of second generation players from France has not always sat well with the rest of the side, squeezing out home-born players and causing rifts in the team that Saadane has had trouble plastering over.

He had to deal with a player mutiny before the Nations Cup in Angola at the start of the year and more friction in South Africa, after the decision to bench captain Yazid Mansouri, who had been a mainstay of their qualifying campaign.

But dipping into the Algerian Diaspora to find more talent will continue to be a priority if Saadane stays on, he said.

One consolation for the Algerians as they headed home was expressed by captain Antar Yahia, born in Mulhouse on the Franco-German border, after Wednesday's game: "We did, at the least, as well as the France team."

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