Old hand gives Algeria an edge
Algeria v Slovenia: Tomorrow, 12.30pm, BBC1
Saturday 12 June 2010
The Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra says his experience with British clubs will help him counter England's attack when the two teams meet at the World Cup.
The powerful centre-back has been in Scotland with Rangers since 2008 and previously played for Crewe Alexandra, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic.
Rangers fans voted him the team's player of the year in his first season as the Glasgow club won a league and cup double. "It can help me," Bougherra said yesterday. "I play in a big team; I played Champions League football so I have learned a mentality change – I want to win every game."
Algeria start their Group C schedule tomorrow against Slovenia, before facing England next Friday and the United States five days later.
Bougherra is a skilful defender who enjoys pushing forward with the ball and can play in midfield if required. "I can play as a striker or defender, no problem," he joked at the team's camp outside Durban. "I play for my country and the coach decides." Coach Rabah Saadane will doubtless play him at centre-half, where he has featured 41 times for Algeria since his debut in 2004, scoring three goals.
Algeria are playing in their third World Cup – their first in 24 years – and are hoping to progress beyond the group stages for the first time. While England and the US are widely expected to reach the last 16, Algeria could spring a surprise – they beat African champions Egypt in a highly charged play-off to get to the finals. "We have nothing to lose," Bougherra said. "We have no pressure."
Bougherra was born to Algerian parents in Dijon, France, and could have declared himself for the 1998 world champions. But he has never thought twice about his decision.
"I had no choice," he said. "I am Algerian in my heart."
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