x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Algeria fans have no fear against World Cup big guns

The Desert Warriors have appeared in three World Cups, in Spain in 1982, where they beat West Germany 2-1 in their first appearance, but were eliminated later in the round.

Ahsan Tezkratt, from Algeria, says The Desert Warriors can raise their game against the big guns at the World Cup. Pawan Singh / The National
Ahsan Tezkratt, from Algeria, says The Desert Warriors can raise their game against the big guns at the World Cup. Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // The Algerians face Belgium in their first World Cup clash – with kick off at 8pm UAE time on June 17 at Estadio Mineirao.

Korea Republic and Russia are the other competitors in Group H.

The Desert Warriors have appeared in three World Cups, in Spain in 1982, where they beat West Germany 2-1 in their first appearance, but were eliminated later in the round.

They qualified for Mexico 1986, but crashed out in the first round against Brazil, Spain and Northern Ireland.

Algeria’s last appearance was in South Africa 2010 where they were drawn against England, USA and Slovenia, and were knocked out without scoring a single goal. Algeria is 25th in the Fifa world rankings.

“There is great hope and expectation for Algeria this World Cup,” said Ahcene Tezkratt, 32, a sales manager who has lived in Dubai since 2009.

“The hope is that we will reach the final of course. The first group is the most important for us, if we get past that then I think we can achieve anything.

“I don’t think Belgium are one of the strong European teams, but we may be surprised this year. Our first match is with them and I feel that even going equal is fine for us because it is just the first match.

“Our issue as a football team is that when we are playing the strongest teams we find our power and can score, but when the team is less strong, we seem to do worse.

Ahcene said that Algeria is a true footballing nation.

“Football is in our blood – we are playing from when we are small. Everyone plays football in Algeria.

“There are big celebrations across the country. Even if we are not in Brazil we act like we are in the stadium. We find somewhere to go and watch the games.

“Here in Dubai it isn’t as good, but still we watch every game.

“Honestly in Algeria it is better because everyone will be outside and nobody will ask why you are raising your voice. Our issue is once we get a win we have a huge party, we go crazy. This is the problem.

Ahcene said he was very pleased with the choice of host nation.

“Brazil is the mother of football – it is a footballing country – once you hear Brazil you think of two things only: beautiful ladies and football – that is it,” he said.

Other’s had a far more serious view of the games.

“For Algerians in general, being in the World Cup goes beyond the physical presence, it is much more a psychological victory over a two decades isolation due to the civil war against the Islamists in the 1990s and early 2000s,” said Slimane Lhocine, a 35 year-old football fan who has lived in Dubai for six years.

“We are in a World Cup because we wanted to break into the international arena again as we did in 1982 against Germany where we made a quiet an impression.

“We deeply know that we probably will not make into the second round, but we come along a difficult road just to say that these young players are a mouth piece of the new young, ambitious, open minded, multicultural new Algeria .

“Watching the world cup in the UAE is a real challenge because of work, and the time of matches airing. I think a lot of the games are at 2am Dubai time and I must be sleeping to get up for work.

He also had concerns about the situation in the host country.

“I’m really worried about security issues as there is serious social upheaval in Brazi. There are daily rallies now in Brazil because of poverty and drug gangs.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae