Algeria will play the first match of their third World Cup against Slovenia on Sunday but their players already have an eye on their second Group C match, against England.
The Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra said today that his experience in British football would help him to deal with the likes of Wayne Rooney when Algeria meet England at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town next Friday night. The centre-back, who has played for Crewe Alexandra, Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday, has also played European football with the Scottish champions.
"It can help me," said Bougherra of his experience in Britain. "I play in a big team, I played Champions League so I have learned a mentality change – I want to win every game."
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Rangers fans voted him their player of the year after his first season at Ibrox, 2008-09, in which the Glasgow club won a league and cup double. "It is British football," he said of such experience, "so this can help me with England."
Algeria's new captain for Sunday's match, Antar Yahia, yesterday suffered an injury scare just over 48 hours before the match against Slovenia. The defender was given the captain's armband after Algeria's manager, Rabah Saadane, dropped Yazid Mansouri because of poor form. However, the 28-year-old Yahia, who has expressed a desire to leave the relegated Bundesliga side Bochum this summer, injured his left ankle in training after a collision with the squad's third‑choice goalkeeper, Raïs M'bolhi, and limped off before the session ended.
Algeria suffered another blow when the striker Rafik Djebbour aggravated a foot injury, which he had sustained yesterday, in training today. He is a major doubt for the game against the Slovenes.
Algeria, who qualified for the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, made this year's tournament at the expense of the six-times African champions, Egypt.
"We will play each game like a cup final," Saadane said. "We are going to compensate for technical weaknesses with the desire we have always shown in our qualifying matches."
Slovenia are making their second World Cup appearance, after losing to Spain, Paraguay and South Africa eight years ago, and are favourites to win in Polokwane on Sunday. The defender Matej Mavric, who plays for Coblenz in Germany, thinks England will win Group C and that the match on Sunday will thus be critical for his side's chances of threatening the USA for second place. "England are a very strong team and we want to be second. We will leave first position for England," he said.
Four matches will be played in a new, 45,000-capacity stadium in Polokwane, which does not have a Premier League team.