Saadane: "We will honour the Arab world in South Africa
After 24 years of absence, Algeria is preparing to make its comeback in World Cup FIFA. Wink of fate, Rabah Saadane already occupied the position of national coach at the last appearance of Fennecs on the world stage, in Mexico in 1986.
- FIFA.com met with Algerian tactician, who is currently in Cape Town to represent his country at the Final Draw on 4 December. He mentioned his hopes for the first round of the competition and ambitions of his team.
Algeria has not participated in the FIFA World Cup for 24 years. What was the mood in your country at the time of qualification for South Africa 2010?
This return to the front of the stage after a long journey across the desert a quarter of a century is incredible. The country was traversed by a wave of happiness and optimism, even before our qualification. Since the beginning of the third qualifying round, we felt that something is happening. This enthusiasm is largely due to our excellent results. In any case, things have changed since our last participation. Today, media is everywhere now, even people who live away, in small villages, can follow our journey and share our joy. Furthermore, Algeria has experienced difficult times over the last ten years, both economically and politically. I believe that our compatriots were looking for a good reason to celebrate.
Algeria is the only African team to have had to go through a play-off to get its ticket to South Africa. How did you feel about this particular event?
This shows that our group was very balanced. The rivalry with Egypt has been intense till the end. Both teams have been very difficult to disentangle and, until the last moment, both could claim to win. We do not see this every day.
What do you expect the Final Draw? Are there certain teams that you'd rather avoid?
I do not really think. It's fantastic to be already present on the starting line. I took a look at the teams that are in different hats and all are very strong. In the third hat, there are courses such as France, Portugal and Serbia. Some people think that New Zealand team is the weakest, but I do not agree. There are no small teams at this level. This is also valid for the second hat. Asian football has progressed in recent years. I really think that the groups are well balanced. All we can do is ensure that we will be ready in time.
What effect does it make to find the Final Draw, 25 years later? Have things changed?
Yes, many. At the time there were only 24 teams competing and we had fallen into a very tough group. I remember that a few days before the draw in Guadalajara in 1985, I told friends about the tone of the joke that I wanted to play against Brazil. We ended up against Brazil, Spain and Northern Ireland. Still, we were not so badly drawn: Brazil had struggled to beat us 1:0.
What do you think of Cape Town?
It is a beautiful city and I expect to live a wonderful World Cup. From what I saw, the organization will be perfect. So I think the tournament will be a frank success.
Have you visited other sites in the World Cup FIFA? Some cities or certain stadiums you preferred?
For now, it is likely that we will play each time in a different stage. So I made on all sites to choose our base camp. It's never easy to play at altitude, so I'd rather move to Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
What can we expect from Algeria in this World Cup FIFA 2010?
We will attend as representatives of Africa and the Arab world. We do not expect to be the only Arab country in this final phase, but it is a source of extra motivation. We want to honour our culture, on the ground and outside. This will certainly push our players to give the best of them each time. From our side we will ensure they are fully prepared.
Ennahar / FIFA.com