Redeeming Algeria: Belmadi’s Method of Turning Around the Desert Foxes
Algeria’s gaffer is redeeming the team with a touch of strict discipline.
Algeria national team headlines the qualifier group. A stalemate against Gambia had their points soaring to a total of four. The positive vibe and harmony, rarely seen showcased, revolves around one man –Djamel Belmadi.
They could only bravely pick up a draw in Banjul and even netting first in front of a hostile home crowd. There have always been qualms amongst Algerian players and these short-falls usually related with egos in the dressing room. However, the appointment of Belmadi seems unanimously approved at least by the show of willingness within the Desert Foxes.
They expectedly dominated a Gambian side that sat on the back seat, surging forward only on counters. Though the new gaffer hasn’t had exclusive time with his regiment of stars, relying mostly on experience for a start, their play coordination was close to perfection.
He appears to have already broken the excessive display of ostentatious behavior by the team’s high profile players that wasn’t put to check by his predecessors.
The dispute over the crowd in the build-up to last Saturday’s duel –causing an hour delay of the encounter –was a vivid show of Belmadi stamping his footprints on the squad already.
No Algerian player mired into the disagreement when the match in Banjul had to be delayed longer than expected, leaving it all for the coach to handle.
This trajectory could be the spark to guide the new manager to success. A ten-year age gap might be between him and his players, however, this difference has only served to foster a player-coach relationship. The same cannot be said of the previous occupants of the Desert Foxes’ managerial hot-seat who, despite boasting a wealth of experience, were dismissed as primitive and their styles described as archaic to the world of the modern game.
Despite his youthful looks, Belmadi is a no-nonsense man and this demeanor only serves to earn him further respect. In addition, he comes with an unblemished record for winning titles.
Far from a dictatorial coach-type, he takes his job with an almost mechanical devotion but not without administering a few lessons when there is the need to, while making sure not to cross boundaries. 22-year-old Illias Hassani had an eventful day dealing with the gaffer hours after he landed at the Desert Foxes’ training camp. Plying his trade in Bulgaria’s Premier League, the Cherno More Varna left-back touched down sporting a rather flashy hairdo which did not catch the coach’s fancy and was ordered to trim it to Belmadi’s taste.
Sources close to the manager say he is imposing new rules cutting across all aspects. He has asked lunch and dinner be served on time for players to refuel at the appropriate moment and has banned visits by relatives at the players camp.
The 42-year-old former Porto man is said to have warned staff and players alike over delays in meetings. Among things he’s frowned upon is the use of smartphones. He sees frequent photo-taking as a distraction and has gone ahead to forbid its use during the training sessions in a bid to avoid a scandal or anything capable of igniting such at the team’s base. To make his points known, he is reported to have texted the players his etiquettes.
“Being in selection is a great reward, but that does not mean everything. You must pay attention to your look, your lifestyle and the image you release. It is important. Give a good example,” his text to the players read.
He employed a similar strategy at Al Duhail whom he won the Qatar Stars League title and it remains to be seen whether the same will tick for him with Algeria.