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North African squad lists announced ahead of 2015 African Cup of Nations
North African representatives Algeria and Tunisia have announced their squads for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
Widely regarded as the 2015 AFCON favorites, Algeria were the first team to officially announce their 23-man squad for the upcoming championship.
Head coach Christian Gourcuff announced the roster on the 15th of December, calling upon Mehdi Abeid, Foued Kadir and veteran defender Madjid Bougherra to lead the charge. Algeria coasted through the qualifying stage with five wins, and clinched the top spot in the group after just four games. The 1990 AFCON champions also racked up an average of 1.8 goals per match.
Although favorites to win in the tournament, Algeria faces an immediate challenge in the competition’s group stage after drawing into “the group of death” along with South Africa, Senegal and Ghana.
Algeria’s only triumph in the competition came nearly 15 years ago, when it hosted the Afcon tournament in 1990. They will square off against South Africa on 19 January, just over a week after playing a friendly against neighbors Tunisia.
Algeria’s squad list is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Raïs Mbolhi (Philadelphia – USA), Izzeddine Doukha (JS Kabylie – Algéria), Mohamed Zemmamouche (USM Alger – Algeria)
Defenders: Mehdi Zeffane (Olympique Lyon – France), Aissa Mandi (Reims – France), Djamel Mesbah (Sampdoria – Italy), Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli – Italy), Madjid Bougherra (Fujaira – UAE), Essaid Belkalem (Trabzonspor – Turkey), Rafik Halliche (SC Qatar – Qatar), Carl Medjani (Trabzonspor – Turkey)
Midfielders: Ahmed Kashi (FC Metz – France), Mehdi Lacen (Getafe – Spain), Saphir Taïder (Sassuolo – Italy), Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham – England), Yacine Brahimi (FC Porto – Portugal), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia – Spain), Abdelmoumen Djabou (Club Africain – Tunisia), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City – England), Foued Kadir (Betis Sevilla – Spain)
Forwards: Ishak Belfodil (Parma – Italy), Islam Slimani (Sporting – Portugal), Hilal Soudani (Dynamo Zagreb – Croatia).
Tunisia enter the African Cup of Nations as dark horses following their strong qualifying campaign.
After bringing in Belgian coach Georges Leekens this year, the Carthage Eagles have demonstrated their ability to win close matches during the qualifying stage by going undefeated against against Egypt, Senegal and Botswana, notching four narrow victories in the process.
Aymen Mathlouthi is in the running to be the team’s starting goalkeeper, giving up only 1 goal during the qualifying round.
The Carthage Eagles will also have to make due without forwards Sabeur Khalifa and Fakhreddine Ben Youssef after both players sustained injuries causing them to miss the tournament. Edem Rjaïbi and Ahmed Akaïchi have been called to replace the two attackers.
The North African team is ranked second on the continent by FIFA, four places lower than CAF-leading Algeria (ranked 18th in the world).
Tunisia’s 23-man squad list is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Moez Ben Cherifia(Espérance), Farouk Ben Mustapha (Club Africain), Aymen Mathlouthi (Étoile du Sahel).
Defenders: Mohamed Ali Yaâkoubi (ES Tunis), Aymen Abdennour, (AS Monaco) Rami Bedoui (ES Sahel) Syam Ben Youssef (Astra Giurgiu – Romania), Ali Maâloul (CS Sfaxien), Hamza Mathlouthi (CA Bizertin), Bilel Mohsni (Rangers – Scotland), Slim Ben Djemia (Laval – France).
Midfielders: Yassine Chikhaoui (FC Zürich – Switzerland), Stéphane Nater (Club Africain – Tunisia), Mohamed Ali Moncer (CS Sfaxien), Houcine Ragued (Espérance), Ferjani Sassi (FC Metz – France), Jamel Saihi (Montpellier HSC – France), Youssef Msakni (Lekhwiya SC – Qatar), Wahbi Khazri (Bordeaux – France).
Forwards: Edem Rjaïbi (Bizertin – Tunisia), Ahmed Akaïchi (Espérance), Hamza Younes (Ludogorets Razgrad – Bulgaria), Amine Chermiti (FC Zürich – Switzerland) ,
Updated January 13th