Algeria will be without star player Riyad Mahrez when they host Uganda Cranes on Saturday in a Group F match of the 2023 AFCON Qualifiers at the 5 July 1962 Stadium in Algiers.
The side is also without Said Benrahma and Yassine Brahimi among other notable key players.
But who should the Uganda Cranes be worried about?
Ismael Bennacer – He is a left footed midfielder who plays for AC Milan. The former Arsenal player, born to Morocco and Algerian parents, represented France at an early stage. He is very versatile and can play all roles in the midfield. One of his main attributes is his ability to carry the ball from defence to attack. Gifted with ability to break down defences with his passes or pace and trickery, Bennacer is going to be the main threat in this Algerian team and the Cranes players must remain alert and deny him space to operate in.
Raïs M’Bolhi – Just like Bennacer, M’Bolhi is also born in France, and in fact, he has featured for France’s National Youth teams. The goalkeeper currently plies his trade in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ettifaq. Since making his debut for Algeria in a 3–0 loss against Ireland in 2010, he remains one of the longest serving players on the team, amassing to 89 caps. He was part of the Algeria squad that reached the knockout at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He is a reliable goalkeeper, good game reading and experienced. Named the best goalkeeper at the 2019 AFCON.
Islam Slimani – He is a striker who is currently at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. He is the leading goal scorer for Algeria with 40 goals. This week, he was surprised by teammates who organised a dinner to celebrate his 10 years on the National team. He is that respected and will be looked at in the absence of Riyad Mahrez. Slimani plays with energy and is a menace to defenders. He is good in air and difficult to contain for an entire game. In February, he was named the best player of the month in Portugal. The former Leicester, Newcastle and Lyon player has notably featured at Five AFCON finals.
Ramiz Zerrouki – This exciting youngster was born in Netherlands and features for FC Twente in Eredivise. The midfielder had his Algeria debut last year but has since been a mainstay in Algeria team. He is very workaholic, covers all ground on the pitch, involves teammates, a good passer and freekick specialist. At Twente, he has evolved into a dependable midfielder whose main attributes include the ability to dispossess opponents.
Aissa Mandi – The French born defenders can play at right and in central defence. He has featured at Reims, Real Beims and currently at Villarreal in Spain. He has featured 17 times in the La Liga this concluded season, notching one goal in the process. He has been part of the Villarreal team that reached the UEFA Champions League with semis before they were knocked out by Liverpool, and he must have learnt a thing or two.