The Algeria-Slovenia match was a non event until Chaouchi made the blunder that sank his team.
Algeria missed their first outing against arguably the weakest team in the group. It looked as if both teams were quite content to get a draw, but Ghezzal and Chaouchi decided otherwise.
Chaouchi, Bougherra, Belhadj, Yahia, Halliche, Lacen, Yebda, Kadir (Guedioura 82’), Ziani, Matmour (Saïfi 80’), Djebbour (Ghezzal 58’)
There was nothing exciting throughout the match. The two teams were doing a good job of neutralising each other in the middle of the park, apart from a few missed opportunities when both goalkeepers had to intervene.
Saadane, Algeria’s coach, seemed quite happy sitting with his assistant on the bench, not even trying to reposition his players or ask them to show more enterprise. Saadane’s cautious tactics were a boon for Slovenia. He opted for the 3-5-2 formation which was in effect a 3-6-1 as Djebbour, the lone striker found himself isolated in the middle of the Slovenian defence, chasing balls sent from midfield by Ziani or from the left by Belhadj. The creative spark in midfield was entrusted to Ziani, he was the one supposed to carve out scoring opportunities for Djebbour but despite all his good intentions and skills, he found himself ploughing a lone furrow.
Ghezzal came on for Djebbour in the 58th minute and had his first yellow card for shirt pulling. It was stupid. As if that was not enough, he went and deliberately handled the ball in the opposition box. The referee was right in showing him his second yellow card and then red and gave him his marching orders. Ghezzal has probably played his last game for Algeria. He penalized the team by letting them play with one man short.
Slovenia, sensing the advantage, pressed forward and Koren, the West Bromwich Albion reject, had a lazy shot at goal. Chaouchi had it covered but the ball bounced awkwardly and just like Robert Green of England, he made the blunder that cost his team the match. Another victim of Jabulani, the official football of this 2010 World Cup.
Ten-man Algeria went forward in search of the equalizer and that was perhaps the best moments of attacking football by Algeria. Why they did not play like that during the whole match remains a mistery.
What is next for Algeria? The prospects are pretty grim. If they could not beat or at least draw with Slovenia, what can they expect from their matches against England and the US? I would say they are facing three defeats in their group if they continue playing defensively. I hope I am wrong.