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Algeria benches its captain for World Cup opener

Algeria's Yazid Mansouri, left, vies for the ball

Algeria's Yazid Mansouri, left, vies for the ball with Ireland's Greg Cunningham during a friendly match in Dublin. (May 28, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Algeria, one of the United States' first-round opponents at the 2010 World Cup, will open the tournament without its captain, according to an AP report.

Yazid Mansouri, a 32-year-old midfielder who plays for Lorient in France, has not impressed head coach Rabah Saadane to warrant a start against Slovenia June 12.

It's a bold decision by Saadane, because surely the loser of that opening match has little to no hope of advancing with favorites United States and England waiting on deck.

Algeria is seen as the weak link in Group C, but it did impress at this year's Africa Cup of Nations tournament, when it defeated Ivory Coast en route to the semifinals. However, Eygpt greeted them harshly and ran the Desert Foxes all over the field in a 4-0 win. Algeria then lost the third-place match, 1-0, to Nigeria.

The team features several European-based players, including Karim Matmour, who plays with U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley at Borussia Monchengladbach.

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