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Algeria tread a cautious path

sports Updated: Jun 13, 2010 00:51 IST

Reuters
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Algeria's coach Rabah Saadane has dropped his team captain for the opening World Cup clash with Slovenia on Sunday after a build-up marred by poor results, injuries and reports of dressing room discontent. Saadane says captain Yazid Mansouri is not playing well enough to make the side and that Hassan Yebda will take his place in the centre of midfield. Defender Antar Yahia will take the captain's armband for the match.

“For any player, it is always difficult to explain to him, to make him understand he's lost his place due to competition," Saadane said in explaining his decision. “We must do it, even if it's painful.”

The North Africans, appearing in the World Cup for the first time in 24 years, have had a poor build-up to the competition including 3-0 loses to both Serbia and the Republic of Ireland in friendlies.

This is the first time they have faced Slovenia, whose only previous appearance at the finals, in 2002, ended in three defeats.

Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek has to decide whether to field Zlatan Ljubijankic or Zlatko Dedic up front. Dedic scored the goal that secured Slovenia's World Cup berth in a 1-0 victory over Russia last year, but Ljubijankic has been in impressive form since then.