Algeria AFCON 2023 squad reaction: Can Mahrez become the Greens’ top scorer?

After winning the treble in 2023, former Manchester City man Riyad Mahrez has the opportunity to start his 2024 with a bang. If he scores, he will become his nation’s highest ever scorer at the Africa Cup of Nations, and maybe lead Algeria to a second AFCON in five years.

Algeria AFCON 2023 squad review

In our preview of the Fennec Foxes’ starting lineup for this tournament, we cast a little doubt on the presence of Said Benrahma, due to his lack of minutes this season. Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi took things a step further and dropped the West Ham man entirely on account of just four league starts. Benrahma will surely be heartbroken

Riyad Mahrez is one of a sizeable contingent of foreign-born players in the squad – Photo by Icon sport.

Full Algeria AFCON 2023 squad

Goalkeepers: 

Anthony Mandrea (SM Caen)

Rais Mbolhi (CR Belouizdad)

Oussama Benbot (USM Alger)

Defenders: 

Youcef Atal (Nice)

Kevin Guitoun (Metz)

Rayan Aït Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

Yasser Larouci (Sheffield United)

Aissa Mandi (Villarreal)

Mohamed Tougai (Esperance Tunis)

Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Dortmund)

Ahmed Touba (US Lecce)

Zineddine Belaid (USM Alger)

Midfielders: 

Nabil Bentaleb (Lille)

Sofiane Feghouli (Fatih Karagumruk)

Houssem Aouar (AS Roma)

Fares Chaibi (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Ramiz Zerrouki (Feyenoord Rotterdam)

Hicham Boudaoui (Nice)

Ismael Bennacer (AC Milan)

Forwards: 

Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli)

Adam Ounas (Lille)

Mohamed Amoura (Union Saint-Gilloise)

Amine Gouiri (Stade Rennais)

Youcef Belaili (MC Alger)

Baghdad Bounedjah (Al-Sadd)

Islam Slimani (Coritiba)

Latest Algeria AFCON 2023 outright odds

Surprise inclusions

A big boost to Algeria’s chances at this tournament is Ismael Bennacer’s return to full fitness. The Milan midfielder was far from certain to make the tournament after undergoing knee surgery to repair ligament damage sustained in May, so much so that we did not include him in our predicted XI. The 26-year-old is a tough tackler, but also possesses very quick feet to escape pressure or beat his man.

In-form players

Rayan Aït Nouri has been essential to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ strong start to 2023/24. The 22-year-old is an energetic presence at left back. He is rarely beaten one-vs-one, but can skin opposing defenders like the trickiest of wingers.

The biggest beneficiary of Benrahma’s exclusion will be Amine Gouiri. The 23-year-old can play as a striker, but has thrived in wide and deeper areas this season for Rennes.

Ismael Bennacer is key for Algeria – Photo by Icon sport

Houssem Aouar will likely complement Ismael Bennacer in midfield, and the 25-year-old is looking rejuvenated in a Roma shirt after leaving his boyhood club, Lyon. He provides goals and creativity from midfield, as well as quick feet.

Tactical analysis

First up for Algeria are Angola. The Black Antelopes have never made it beyond the quarter finals of AFCON, and are not expected to make a deep run this tournament, with only 21-year-old Zito Luvumbo playing in a top five European league. That said, Angola have only lost one of their last 14, so may make life difficult in the group opener.

Algeria’s trickiest game will be Burkina Faso. The Stallions do not have the same quality across the pitch as Algeria, but have individuals who can cause serious damage. Bertrand Traore and Dango Outtara provide searing pace up top, and Edmond Tapsoba will be sorely missed at the back by table-topping Bayer Leverkusen.

Finally, Algeria will face relative minnows Mauritiana, who can be immensely proud of their improvement and qualification, having been ranked as the fourth-worst side in the world as recently as 2012.

Edmond Tapsoba will pose a challenge to the Algerian attack – Photo by Icon sport

Current odds

Algeria are 7/1 to win AFCON at the moment, and Riyad Mahrez is fifth-favourite to win the golden boot at 12/1.

Algeria AFCON trivia

  1. If Riyad Mahrez nets just one goal, he will overtake Lakhdar Belloumi as Algeria’s top scorer at AFCON.
  2. Despite winning in 2019 and 1990, only DR Congo have lost more AFCON games than Algeria. 
  3. Aside from their win in 2019, Algeria have not achieved a podium finish since 1990, and were eliminated in the group stage in 2021.
  4. Algeria were disqualified from the AFCON 1994 in Tunisia due to the use of an ineligible player.
  5. Astonishingly, 12 of Algeria’s squad were born in France.

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William Evans

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.