Friday Sep 13, 2019. 17:00
A high profile, and likely highly charged, friendly between African champions Algeria and World Cup winners France looks to be on the cards almost a decade since their only previous meeting ended in chaos.
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graët has responded favourably to a suggestion from his Algerian counterparts but warned political agreement would be needed first.
“Ever since I’m here (as president of FFF), I’ve wanted to go to Algeria. It’s the only country we have not played against,” he told reporters at the Stade de France where France beat Andorra in Euro-2020 qualifying on Tuesday.
“It is time to make this match. I will move as quickly as possible to see in what conditions we can organise this game.”
But he said he would have to consult with the French government and get the agreement of French president Emmanuel Macron.
“Usually we make these decisions on our own but it’s such an important match that political agreement is needed. But the French team has a duty to play in Algeria.”
France were the colonial power in Algeria, where a bitter war of independence was waged, and is home a large Algerian Diaspora.
Most of the Algerian team are French-born while many of Algerian descent, most notably Zinedine Zidane, have played for France.
The explosive nature of the relationship was shown by the events at their only previous meeting in 2001 when a pitch invasion at the Stade de France forced the friendly to be abandoned
Les Blues were leading 4-1 when dozens of young Algerian supporters invaded the pitch.
Before the kick off both French and Algerian players were hailed as ‘messengers of peace’ in a pre-game presentation but matters quickly turned sour when the French national anthem La Marseillaise was loudly jeered.
The conduct of the supporters was loudly condemned at the time, with many observers saying it only fuelled racial tension and provided right wing extremists with ammunition.
The proposed re-match next year would be played in Oran, according to Algerian reports.
Algeria’s Paris-born coach Djamel Belmadi, who led the team to success in the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in July, told a press conference last week: “It would be a prestigious match against a team who are two-time world champion. That’s how I would I look at it, firstly from a sporting perspective.
“We know that any confrontation with the French team is full of history, so for all these elements, it seems to me a very interesting proposition to be able to play against them someday.”