World Cup 2010: US foe Algeria gets thumped in African Cup opener

Algeria fall flat in African Cup of Nations opener; Photo by Chimpanz

Unheralded Malawi crushed US Group C opponent Algeria 3-0 in each team’s African Cup of Nations opener today, in a result that should bring smiles to American, English, and Slovenian faces. We shouldn’t get too carried away as the match did come just days after the attack on the Togo national team bus has thrown a cloud over the whole tournament. But Malawi isn’t exactly a world or even African soccer power. The poor display by the Algerians is more evidence that the US team really should qualify out of the group stage at this summer’s World Cup Finals.

Malawi got off to a great start in the 17th minute when Algerian goal keeper Faouzi Chaouchi’s attempted clearance deflected off one Malawian attacker right to another for an easy goal. Another defensive lapse led to the 2nd goal, and just after halftime, Malawi made it 3-0 after Chaouchi flapped at a cross allowing striker David Banda to slot home from the resulting scramble. It should be noted that Chauchi is not Algeria’s No. 1 keeper, although he did start the decisive playoff match against Egypt because regular keeper Lounes Gaouaoui was suspended. Gaouaoui is out of this tournament suffering from appendicitis, and with a performance like this Chaouchi didn’t do himself any favors if he wanted to take the field against the US in South Africa.

The odd circumstances in which this match was played may mean this one result is more of a fluke than an indicator of Algeria’s true level. The Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba said after his team’s 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso that “after what happened a few days ago it was difficult to concentrate.” It would be an understandable lapse if Angola’s players weren’t totally focused on the game and found it hard to pull themselves together after the early defensive mix ups. Not only were all the players still coming to grips with the Togo attack, but the match was played in a virtually deserted stadium, which only added to the odd environment.

But still, losing this badly to Malawi is a bad sign for any team no matter what the circumstances. Malawi finished third in Africa’s Group E during qualifying for the World Cup, taking only 4 points from six games in a group won by Ivory Coast. Most of the players on the Malawi team play in African leagues, with only two in Europe–Russel Mwafuliwra for IFK Norrkoping in Sweden and Essau Kanyenda who plays for FC KAMAZ in Russia, not exactly top tier club soccer.

Algeria are still not out of the tournament and face Mali next and the hosts Angola in their group stage finale. They better show up in those games or there will be a real crisis headed into the World Cup. Regardless of the odd circumstances of this one match, Algeria has done nothing to change my view that the US should get out of Group C.

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2 Responses

  1. I wish I could be in South Africa. Instead I will have to settle for watching the 2010 world cup online.

  2. Chaouchi is the shit. && always will be hes such a good goali just because he missed a couple of goals doesnt make him a bad goaliii I love Chaouchi. && i am not even algerian

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