Bentaleb in Algeria's squad for World Cup qualifier clash against Tanzania
Algeria have announced a provisional 32-man squad for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifier against Taifa Stars, with English Premier League side, Tottenham's midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, one of the big inclusions.
Taifa Stars set up a first round clash with Algeria's desert Foxes after seeing off Malawi with a 2-1 aggregate win in the preliminary round of the World Cup qualifying series. A 20-year-old Spurs midfielder, Bentaleb, who made his debut against Slovenia in March, last year, is joined in the squad by Marhez Ryad and Adlane Guedioura, who feature for Leicester and Watford respectively.
Other household names in the list include Brahimi Yassine (Porto), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia), Slimani Islam (Sporting Lisbon), Abeid Mehdi (Panathinaicos), Ryad Boudebouz (Montpellier), Saphir Taider (Bologna) and Zeffane Mehdi (Rennes).
Others are Benrhama Said (Nice), Soudani Hilal Al Arabi (Dinamo Zagreb), Mesbah Djamel Eddine (Sampdoria), Rachid Ghezzal (Lyon) and Walid Mesloub (Lorient). Stars are scheduled to host the Algeria's Desert Foxes on November 14, in the first leg, first round match of the World Cup qualifiers to be held at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
The return leg match is scheduled to take place in Algiers on November 17, three days after the first leg match in Dar es Salaam. In preparations for the double-header, Stars will camp for twelve days outside the country.
The trip is organised by a special committee formed to help Stars excel in various tournaments including the World Cup finals set for Russia in 2018. Already, the committee has started manoeuvring the downfall of the Desert Foxes, by mobilising Tanzanians to contribute cash, which will be utilised in preparing the team.
The committee recently revealed that it is targeting to collect 4bn/- for the campaign. The money will be used for players' incentives, promotion, marketing and enabling the team to set up camp within and outside the country.
Stars head coach Charles Boniface Mkwasa, speaking to the 'Daily News' last week, said Algeria will be a tough opponent, but remained confident that the continental top seeded side are not invincible.
Mkwasa said it will not be an easy task but his squad will not be intimidated with their opponents, who are the continental powerhouse in soccer, according to the FIFA World rankings.
"I know our opponents are the best in the continent at the moment although in football, rankings do not matter much... anything can happen as long as you have prepared well and you have competent squad," he said.
Mkwasa, who is former Stars' player, said he knows that the Algerians are good in physique and they utilise to the maximum that advantage by playing tough and tactical game. "We do not fear that as we also have a capable team. We will work hard to neutralise them," he said.