Nickname: The Desert Warriors
Association formed: 1962
Previous Afcon Appearances: 16 (1968, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2013, 2015)
Best result: Champions (1990)
Coach: Georges Leekens
Leading scorers: all-time –Abdelhafid Tasfaout (34)
Most appearances: all-time – Lakhdar Belloumi (100)
FIFA ranking: 38 (5th in CAF)
THE BIG QUESTION
The last time Algeria won the Afcon title was back in 1990 in what was a host and win. They have since not got any closer to the trophy. But, with Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, can they break the jinx and become champions for the second time?
WHO ARE THEY?
The Algeria national football team represents Algeria in international association football and has done so since 1962. Algeria have qualified for four World Cups in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014. They became the first African team to score four goals in a match at the World Cup against South Korea. 1982 FIFA World Cup Algeria caused one of the great World Cup upsets on the first day of the tournament with a 2–1 victory over the reigning European champions, West Germany.
TOP THREE PLAYERS
Riyad Mahrez: The reigning BBC African Footballer of the Year may be enduring a mixed season, but there aren’t too many African players who can claim to achieve what he did during the 2015-16 campaign. Mahrez is capable of brilliance, but how will he fare with the inevitable close and brutal attentions from Africa’s defenders?
Islam Slimani: While Algeria have a plethora of talented and creative midfielders, talents who would be the envy of others across the continent, they aren’t blessed when it comes to strikers, with Slimani the undisputed leading man. He scored eight goals in the space of five matches for the Fennecs at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, and can thrive as a pure poacher or as a more physical forward presence.
El Arabi Hillel Soudani: Not one of Algeria’s most glamorous players, but certainly among their most effective! Soudani brings power to the Fennecs’ forward line, either as a central support for Slimani or wide on the left, and also knows how to find the net. He’s scored nine in his last eight matches for the North Africans, and top scored (with seven) during Afcon qualification.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Algeria romped through a group containing Ethiopia, Seychelles and Lesotho, bagging 16 points – winning five games – from their six matches. Admittedly, they weren’t tested too much by limited opponents, with a thrilling 3-3 draw in Addis Ababa the only slip-up. The Fennecs qualified after scoring the most goals (25), with the best goal difference (+20) and with the joint-most points (16) of any other competitor.
FULL 23-MAN SQUAD AFCON
GOALKEEPERS: Raïs Ouhab M’bolhi (Antalyaspor -Turkey), Malik Asselah (JS Kabylie), Chemseddine Rahmani (MO Béjaïa)
DEFENDERS: Mokhtar Belkhiter (Club Africain -Tunisia), Mohamed Rabie Meftah (USM Alger), Aïssa Mandi (Real Bétis – Spain), Hicham Belkaroui (Espérance de Tunis -Tunisia), Liassine Cadamuro (Servette Genève -Switzerland), Mohamed Benyahia (USM Alger), Ramy Bensebaïni (Stade Rennais -France), Faouzi Ghoulam (SSC Napoli – Italy), Djamel Eddine Mesbah (FC Crotone -Italy)
MIDFIELDERS: Adlène Guedioura (Watford FC – England), Saphir Taïder (Bologna FC -Italy), Nabil Bentaleb (Schalke 04 – Germany), Mehdi Abeid (Dijon FCO -France), Yassine Brahimi (FC Porto -Portugal), Rachid Ghezzal (Olympique Lyonnais -France)
ATTACKERS: Islam Slimani (Leicester City FC – England), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City FC – England), Hillal El Arabi Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb -Croatia), Baghdad Bounedjah (Al Sadd -Qatar), Sofiane Hanni (RSC Anderlecht – Belgium)