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Tension mounts between Algeria’s coach Petkovic and star player Mahrez

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The relationship between Algeria’s new head coach, Vladimir Petkovic, and star winger Riyad Mahrez appears to be off to a rocky start. As Petkovic prepares to announce the squad for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Guinea and Uganda, speculation is rife regarding Mahrez’s inclusion.

Reports from BeIN Sports journalist Hafid Derradji suggest that Mahrez has been unresponsive to Petkovic’s attempts to communicate, which could potentially see the Al-Ahli player omitted from the squad.

Derradji claimed that Mahrez ignored calls from Petkovic aimed at re-establishing contact before the squad announcement, further fueling rumors of a strained relationship between the two.

In response, Mahrez’s entourage vehemently denied these allegations. Speaking to Gazette du Fennec, Mahrez’s camp clarified that there has been no contact from Petkovic since March.

They emphasized that Mahrez is currently dealing with a minor knee injury, which has added another layer of complexity to the situation.

The controversy surrounding Mahrez’s potential absence is a significant talking point in Algerian football circles.

Mahrez, a key figure for the national team, has been instrumental in Algeria’s successes in recent years.

His absence from the squad could have notable implications for Algeria’s performance in the crucial qualifiers.

Petkovic, who took over the reins from Djamel Belmadi earlier this year, faces a challenging task in balancing team dynamics and performance expectations.

The supposed communication gap with one of Algeria’s most high-profile players adds to the pressure on the Swiss coach, who is still establishing his authority and approach within the team.

As the announcement looms, fans and analysts alike are keenly awaiting Petkovic’s decisions.

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The handling of the Mahrez situation could set the tone for Petkovic’s tenure and influence his relationship with other players.

Ensuring clear and effective communication with key squad members will be crucial for Petkovic as he navigates his early days as Algeria’s head coach.

Meanwhile, Mahrez’s form and fitness remain under scrutiny. Despite his injury, the winger’s experience and skill are invaluable assets to the national team.

Whether Mahrez will feature in Petkovic’s plans for the World Cup qualifiers is yet to be seen, but the controversy has undoubtedly cast a shadow over the squad announcement.

As Algeria prepares for the World Cup qualifiers, the spotlight remains firmly on Petkovic and Mahrez.

The resolution of their apparent differences will be pivotal in determining Algeria’s prospects on the road to the 2026 World Cup.

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