Algeria have scheduled three friendly matches ahead of their World Cup endeavours. The first encounter sees the Fennecs host Slovenia, an opponent they lost to in their opening match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Coach Vahid has called on two new faces for this fixture. Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is set to make his debut after a highly mediatized couple of months. It’s a good match to blood him in. This friendly is too early to have any real implications on the World Cup, so it’s relatively pressure-free. That said because he is a newcomer all media eyes will be on him. There has never been an arrival as large as Bentaleb, which is why it’s such an ordeal.
But it’s another youngster, Zinedine Ferhat, who might make an even bigger impact for Les Verts. The USM Alger winger will have to try and capitalize on Sofiane Feghouli’s absence (wisdom teeth) to impress the Algerian public. His call-up has been more discreet than Bentaleb’s even if those in Algeria will know who he is. Ferhat was one of a few players in last year’s U20 African Championship who gave a favourable account of himself, so he thoroughly deserves the recognition.
The lead-up for Wednesday’s has gone smoothly and both teams have prepared in relative serenity. The friendly has took on a sort of gala atmosphere as celebrity guests like Pele are expected to be in attendance. Coach Vahid will want to win, but more importantly, he will want to experiment with various players and formations to learn a little more about this group.