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Slimani’s exclusion raises questions amid Algeria’s World Cup qualifiers

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Algerian national team coach Vladimir Petkovic has taken a bold step by sidelining Islam Slimani, the team’s all-time leading scorer, in favor of focusing on Baghdad Bounedjah. This decision has sparked both curiosity and nostalgia among football fans.

A recent social media post by Riyad Mahrez, Raïs M’Bolhi, and Islam Slimani, showing the trio in a relaxed vacation setting, added to the mix of emotions.

The photo, with the three football stars donning casual summer outfits and hats, was shared as the Algerian team secured a challenging victory in Kampala, reigniting their hopes for qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.

Petkovic appeared visibly relieved after the win, especially following a tough defeat by Kaba Diawara’s Guinea in Algiers.

The victory in Uganda was a morale boost, achieved without the presence of three iconic figures in Algerian football: Slimani, Mahrez, and M’Bolhi.

Each of these players has made significant contributions to the national team, but their current situations have kept them from the squad.

Riyad Mahrez requested a temporary exemption from the national team, which was interpreted as an early retirement signal by the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) and Petkovic.

Raïs M’Bolhi, meanwhile, opted for a lucrative contract with Chabab Belouizdad without participating in matches. Islam Slimani’s journey took him to Mechelen, a move that didn’t pan out as expected.

Slimani’s once assured place in the national team is now uncertain.

His past achievements, including being the top scorer in the 2014 World Cup squad and a key player in the 2019 African Cup of Nations victory, now seem overshadowed by his recent performances.

Petkovic’s decision to leave Slimani out of the squad, even as he watched from the stands during the Guinea match, indicates a clear shift in the coach’s strategy.

Slimani’s exclusion comes despite his historical significance and ability to score goals, even in lesser leagues.

However, Petkovic’s focus is on younger talents like Gouiri and Amoura, aiming to build a team capable of competing at the highest level for years to come.

Slimani’s recent struggles with consistency and frequent transfers have only reinforced Petkovic’s resolve to look elsewhere for attacking options.

The coach’s confidence in players such as Yassine Benzia and Moncef Bekrar, despite their less impressive statistics, further emphasizes his intention to rejuvenate the squad.

Slimani, now 38 years old, faces the reality of his international career being at a crossroads. His absence from the upcoming squad lists, including September’s, seems almost certain.

Petkovic’s strategy appears to be centered on nurturing younger players and preparing them for the future.

The decision to move away from relying on veterans like Slimani aligns with his long-term vision for the team.

As the national team navigates the path to World Cup qualification, Petkovic’s focus on youth over experience is a clear message: the future of Algerian football lies in the hands of its emerging talents.

In summary, while Islam Slimani’s contributions to Algerian football are undeniable, the current direction under Vladimir Petkovic suggests a shift towards building a team that can sustain success beyond the immediate future.

Fans may feel nostalgic, but the focus is firmly on developing the next generation of football stars.

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issa said

issa said

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