The Algerian national team have started altitude training in Switzerland amid much concern over the fitness woes of some of the most influential members of the squad.
With the upcoming friendly against Ireland on May 28th in Dublin drawing nearer, for some players it is a race against time to be ready for this important match and prove their fitness to the coaching staff before the final list of 23 players is sent to FIFA on June 1st.
All the 25 players are at the moment in Crans Montana in Switzerland where the Algerian FA have set up their training camp. This is supposed to help the team acclimatize to the high altitude conditions expected in South Africa. Training in high altitude is important. According to the training experts when the human body is exposed to oxygen reduced environments, it struggles to produce required amounts of energy with less available oxygen. This in turn improves the cardiovascular system and leads to better athletic performance and physical wellness.
Physical wellness is indeed what the Algerian players are in dire need of right now. If we look at the state of Team Algeria today, we can see that some players are in serious danger of missing the first round of matches in the World Cup. Mourad Meghni (Lazio), for example, after a long lay off, has started only yesterday with light training and is a long way away from optimal fitness. His teammate Madjid Bougherra (Glasgow Rangers) is in the same boat with knee problems. These two players are the major injury worries for the coaching staff. Mehdi Lacen (Racing Santander) got to the training camp carrying a knock from his last La Liga match. Hassan Yebda and Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth) who missed the FA Cup Final (Belhadj only played for the last 10 minutes) due to injury are not yet fit. These players have almost all been discarded by Coach Saadane for the Ireland friendly.
He clearly stated that he would not like to see them feature against Ireland and risk losing them for the World Cup. Other players like Riadh Boudebouz (Sochaux), Carl Medjani (Ajaccio), Rais Mbolhi (Slavia Sofia) have been put on a lighter training load so as not to exacerbate their injuries but are expected to be fit for the Dublin match. Still, Kader Ghezzal (Sienna), Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens), have been granted a rest period of a couple of days by Saadane after they joined the training camp and showed signs of exhaustion.
According to Saadane, Team Algeriaâ€™s medical staff are providing the best possible care to the players, treating and enabling the players to reach their full potential and also helping the coaching staff make decisions on the playersâ€™safe participation in the Ireland and UAE matches prior to the World Cup.
Without much time left before the serious business starts, the Algerian team medical staff have their work cut out. They have to rehabilitate the injured and turn a team of walking wounded players into a formidable outfit, ready for battle ahead of their showdown against Slovenia, England and the USA in South Africa.