Disbelief soon gave way to the realization of the bitter truth: Algeria will be without their playmaker in South Africa. The news came as a bombshell throwing consternation among the fans of the Desert Warriors: Mourad Meghni will not be in the World Cup. His knee is out of commission.
Mourad Meghni had valiantly fought for months his injury to try and be among his teammates in this marvelous World Cup adventure which every football player dreams of and wants to be part of. But for Mourad Meghni, it was not to be.
The Lazio di Roma playmaker had seen some of the best specialists in France and Italy for this type of injury and had even spent a few months in a rehabilitation center to nurse his capricious knee but to no avail.
Mourad Meghni was diagnosed with patella tendonitis which is simply the inflammation and degeneration of the patellar ligament and the tissue that surrounds it, leading to pain and discomfort in the area just below the knee cap. Meghni and the Algerian team Medical staff have tried for months to deal with this nasty injury but have at last conceded defeat. With time running out, they had come to the conclusion that Meghni will not be operational during the World Cup and if he tries to play he may put his footballing career in jeopardy. It was therefore wise to tell the player point blank that he had to go and have surgery on his knee. Playing and forcing the knee could be career threatening.
When the decision was made, Saadane, the Algerian coach, faced the press and tried to put on a brave face in front of the cameras and journalists but eventually broke down in tears. He said that the team is like a big family and that they have all been affected by Meghniâ€™s predicament and his missing out on the World Cup.
Understandably, Meghni is the most influential player in the Algerian midfield. He is a player who has been dogged by injuries throughout his career. He started playing for Bologna in the Italian Serie A at the tender age of 18. Then he played for Sochaux in France before moving back to Italy and signing for Lazio.
He was courted by the big teams in Italy including Juventus but the time spent nursing his injuries instead of playing did not help his cause. He is a great player, with a panoply of tricks with the ball, a wizard that gives a lot of fun to the fans.
His absence in South Africa will not be forgotten by the Algerian players and fans. Mourad Meghni will be sorely missed.
Morale is low in camp Algeria but with the first friendlies before the World Cup looming large on the horizon, both players and staff have to pick themselves up and soldier on.