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Thursday, September 21, 2023

2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying Preview: Group F



FIFA Ranking: 44

AFCON Appearances: 19

Best Finish: Champions (1990, 2019)

Manager: Djamel Belmadi

Key Player

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City- England)

Following some early season questions regarding his playing time and relationship with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, the 31-year-old playmaker rebounded to have a very good second half of the season after returning from disappointment at the 2021 AFCON. Mahrez scored 24 goals in all competitions this season for City and continued to be the difference maker for Algeria in 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying but the team’s AFCON group stage exit in Cameroon and subsequent ousting in the final round of Qatar 2022 qualifying were noticeable blemishes on his season. The English Premier League winner will sit out the first two 2023 AFCON qualifiers to recover from a long club season but should be back to lift Algeria to their sixth consecutive AFCON finals.

Other players to watch

Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Mönchengladbach- Germany) The versatile left-footed defender has thrived for club and country as a left back who plays with intelligence when defending or attacking down the wing. The 27-year-old’s importance for Algeria will only continue to grow as manager Belmadi attempts to bring younger players into the squad.

Islam Slimani (Sporting CP- Portugal) An acrimonious club season in Portugal did not negatively impact the 33-year-old as he became his nation’s all-time leading scorer during Qatar 2022 qualifying, scoring eight goals and avoiding Belmadi’s clear out of veteran players unlike Baghdad Bounedjah. Slimani will need to find a new club situation where he can find regular playing time but is set to be counted on again to be the #9 up top for the Fennecs.

Ismaël Bennacer (AC Milan- Italy) At 24-years-old the central midfielder had an excellent club season to help Milan win the Serie A following a long title drought but came up missing at the 2021 AFCON. Bennacer’s starting spot is secured and Fennecs supporters are hoping he can regain his national team form in AFCON qualifying and be the force they know he is capable of.


The 2019 AFCON conquest seems like a long time ago after a miserable first half to 2022 but the quality in the team remains. Belmadi made it clear his mission is to transition the team from depending on veterans and despite the struggles that may come in the process, Algeria should progress to the 2023 AFCON without too much trouble.