The roots of the Algerian national football team — the Fennecs (the desert foxes) — lie deep in the Algerian freedom movement. The National Liberation Front, the revolutionary socialist political party, helped organise the first team to politically represent Algeria. Of the 10 players who escaped France in 1958, and crossed the Mediterranean, at least four would have gone to the World Cup for them and would have, arguably, been jostling for a starting berth.
Hence, it is only logical that in 2008, when FIFA changed its eligibility laws to allow players who had not represented a senior national team to switch national teams at any age, the head of the Algerian Football Federation was at the forefront of the lobbying.
At the 2010 World Cup, 17 players from the Algerian team were selected from its diaspora, a majority of them living in France. In the 2014 team, the numbers remain steady. A large chunk of the current team had nothing to do with it before 2008. Some jumped, others were won over. Even so, their qualification was again filled with drama, a last-gasp 2-1 win over Burkina Faso getting the job done.The team would be rueing that they have a high-profile supporter in Pele. The Pele curse is well known — teams he has said good things of have often bombed.
One player will be watching the Algerian team with envy. Samir Nasri, out of the France squad, may be wondering at what could have been had he crossed over.