Algeria were left to pick up the pieces after yet another defeat which is a bad omen for next month’s World Cup. Last night’s friendly match between Ireland and Algeria did not live up to expectations. For the Algerians that is. For them there was nothing to write home about. For the Irish, who were playing their last match before going on holiday, it was all one way. They dispatched Algeria with a 3-0 scoreline and went to celebrate with a cool pint of Guinness.
This second consecutive 3-0 defeat in the lead-up to the World Cup finals left the Algerian fans dejected and dispirited. For Saadane, Algeria’s coach, it was back to the drawing board to try and salvage some pride against the UAE in Germany in their last friendly before heading for South Africa.
Although Saadane had stated before the match that the result was not important, it was nonetheless desirable to show some enterprise and organization on the pitch. These were blatantly lacking throughout the match. The players showed commitment and were willing to get stuck in but it was not enough. Team cohesion was the main culprit.
Algeria has had its fair share of injuries and with several players still sidelined and nursing limbs, it was important for Saadane to give some playing time to the players who were coming back into the team after a long lay-off. It was also important to give opportunities to his new charges who had their first international caps last night, namely Mesbah, Mbolhi, Kadir, Bellaid and Boudebouz. These young players showed glimpses of class and are the future of Algerian football but need time to be nurtured into world class players.
Algeria played in a 4-4-2 formation with Chaouchi in goal, two central defenders: Halliche and Bellaid, two full backs Guedioura (right) and Mesbah (left). The midfield was made-up of Lacen, Ziani, Mansouri and Belhadj. The two strikers were Ghezzal and Djebbour.
What jumps to mind is the coach’s decision to have two players play out of position: Belhadj who is a full back was played as a holding midfielder and Guedioura who is a holding midfielder was played as a full back.
The first goal for the Irish was scored following a free kick by Paul Green with a diving header anticipating the onrushing goalkeeper. Algerians would do well to learn to defend from dead ball situations or they will be taken apart by England in the World Cup. They will have to contend with Crouch’s height and Rooney’s speed and power.
The second goal was scored from a cross. The cross came from the left, Chaouchi went for the ball to intercept but disappointingly flapped at it and the ball fell to Robbie Keane, the most lethal Irish forward, who lifted it into the net with the goalkeeper backtracking to his goal line.
Ghezzal was presented with a golden scoring opportunity but was too slow, inviting St Ledger’s sliding tackle when he should have had a go at goal.
Robbie Keane added another goal from the spot kick after Mesbah clattered into him while he was through on goal. To be fair to young Mesbah, he appeared to make contact with the ball in his desperate tackle.
The second best chance of a goal for Algeria was Guedioura’s powerful header against the crossbar. And that was all.
On the basis of last night’s match, Algeria’s opponents in the group matches in the World Cup would be licking their lips and looking forward to picking up three points against the Desert Warriors. But that is not a certainty.