England's opponents 2: Algeria

England's second group game is on Friday June 18 at 8.30pm against Algeria at the Cape Town Stadium. In a sentence: Happy to be back on the world stage, they shouldn't trouble teams with serious designs on glory.

World Cup appearances: Two

Best performance: Groups, 1982 & 1986

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 28

How they qualified: Algeria and Egypt had finished tied at the top of their group with goal difference and goals scored unable to separate them. 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 – see "More Than A Game" in the current issue of FourFourTwo.

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 after a series of French bosses found little success. The 63-year-old has also worked in several Arabic countries over the last two decades.

Key players:

Karim Ziani (VfL Wolfsburg, midfielder, 27) French-born Ziani is representative of many Algeria players born in France to immigrant parents who have opted to play for the north African nation. The diminutive midfielder 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 Belhadj (Portsmouth, full-back, 27) Not many can boast of scoring twice against Argentina but the Pompey man can, after achieving it during a 4-3 loss in a friendly in Spain two years ago. Dangerous down the left wing, where he keenly moves forward from his full-back position.

Mourad Meghni (Lazio, midfielder, 25) 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.

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.

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