ALGERIA FLIES AFRICA'S FLAG TODAY
With the kick off of the much awaited and first ever World Cup to be staged on African soil, the Desert Foxes of Algeria, one of Africa's representatives to this year's Mundial will file out at the magnificent Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwan to confront Slovenia, one of Europe's representatives. Algeria is making a return to the World Cup for the first time since 1986 which was the last time they participated in the mundial . They were knocked out the first round that year.
Algeria fought a tough battle to make it to this year's World Cup as they had to edge out the most successful African team, Egypt at the play off to qualify for the Mundial. The team has trained hard to ensure that they go a step further than they in 1986.
The Foxes are in high spirits since rounding off their training in Nuremburg, Germany where they defeated United Arab Emirate 1-0 in their last friendly match. Every member of the squad is in shape to take on Slovenia at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
'The competition starts right now', said Algerian ace, Karim Ziana on the team's arrival. This is the first time both teams will be meeting and it is expected that with African support, Algeria will give a good account of themselves.
Slovenia on the other hand is not oblivious to the task ahead of them as they file out to meet the Desert Foxes today. This is their second appearance in the World Cup after appearing in 2002. They have players that the Algerians have to watch and mark with every sense of responsibility, if their dream of making a good start at the Mundial would be realised.
Some of the players that Slovenia will be parading today include Cologne striker Milivoje Novakovic, who scored five times during the qualifiers and, at 30, is approaching this FIFA World Cup in top form. The Ljubljana-born striker describes himself as making up one third of Slovenia's 'backbone', with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and captain Robert Koren, a talented attacking midfielder, identified by Novakovic as comprising this key triumvirate.
On the Algerian side we have scorer of the goal that took Les Fennecs through to South Africa, Antar Yahia. He is one of the pillars of his team, a status he shares with Madjid Bougherra, Nadir Belhadj and goalkeeper Lounes Gaouaoui, although back-up custodian Fawzi Chaouchi is now making serious claims on the gloves.
Midfield is Algeria's strength and meanwhile captain Yazid Mansouri will be spreading the ball around and forward-thinkers Karim Ziani and Mourad Meghni the most likely players on the prowl. Lastly, striker Karim Matmour has steadily been proving himself more than useful on the right wing. Both sides have good tacticians who could make the difference as they proffer solutions to problems in the field of play.