Algeria coach stands by keeper after blunder

South Africa: Algeria’s coach and captain stood firmly behind the team’s goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi on Monday, a day after his blunder gifted Slovenia victory in their opening Group C World Cup match.

Algeria face England on Friday in a game both sides need to win to get their World Cup campaigns back on track. England’s goalkeeper Robert Green was also guilty of a dreadful mistake that handed the United States an equaliser.

“These kind of mistakes could happen to any player. From our point of view he was forgiven straight away, even before he apologised,” captain Antar Yahia told a news conference at the Desert Foxes’ training ground south of Durban.

“The team is united in victory as in defeat. (Faouzi) Chaouchi has won us matches in the past and will win others for us in the future. So there are no concerns there.”

Veteran coach Rabah Saadane also dismissed any doubts about the 25-year-old goalkeeper’s performance.

“We have a good goalkeeper, we have a young goalkeeper. And it’s in matches like these that he must be encouraged, even when he makes a significant mistake. So we still have confidence in him,” said Saadane.

Super Team

He laughed when a British journalist asked him whether Algeria would like to see Green remain in goal for England.

“I think that’s a problem for Capello. It’s a super team, as I’ve said, it’s among the favourites,” said Saadane, who is coaching Algeria for the fifth time.

“The team showed this against the United States. It’s going to be a very, very difficult match for us, but we have nothing to lose.”

Mohamed Raouraoua, the president of Algeria’s Football Association, said Chaouchi’s mistake could have been down to the flight of the new World Cup soccer ball -- or just a momentary lapse of concentration.

“The goalkeeper had a very, very good match. He stopped far harder shots -- but not that one, alas.”

Saadane said he would keep pretty much the same team for the match against England, with one or two changes at most.

“We played a very a good match. And I hope we can do it again, but with more efficiency in front of goal.”

Midfielder Hassan Yebda, who replaced dropped captain Yazid Mansouri for the Slovenia game, said the players had already put Sunday’s defeat behind them.

“We no longer have anything to lose.”

Bureau Report

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