Tuesday 26 March 2024, 13:00

Petkovic aiming to follow in Halilhodzic’s footsteps and take Algeria back to the FIFA World Cup

  • Petkovic emphasises importance of friendly tournaments like the FIFA Series™

  • Algeria coach says playing different teams raises the level of his side

  • “Games like these are good preparation for the World Cup”

During the month of Ramadan, Algeria is hosting the FIFA Series 2024™ in which the hosts are competing alongside Andorra, South Africa and Bolivia. The matches provide a great opportunity for the Fennec Foxes to move on from a disappointing Africa Cup of Nations and look to the future under new coach Vladimir Petkovic. Algeria’s first match, against Bolivia at the Nelson Mandela Stadium, was a five-goal thriller. The home fans ultimately left the happiest, having seen their side overturn a deficit to win the match 3-2 late in the second half.

Speaking to FIFA, Petkovic said, “We couldn’t have got a better result in our first match together. Getting the win was very important to us, but we know there’s still a lot of work to be done. Overall, it was good to get the win, but there were some negatives in the performance as well.” “We’ve got a lot of work to do because we want to build a strong team that can perform well and achieve positive results for Algerian fans,” he added.

“Small tournaments like the FIFA Series are the best way to prepare”

Petkovic has a wealth of managerial experience, including seven years with Switzerland. Whilst there, he found friendly tournaments in Europe helped his side prepare for competitive fixtures. Discussing the FIFA Series 2024, Petkovic said, “It’s a great opportunity because friendlies are tough and small tournaments like this are ideal for us. It was similar with the UEFA Nations League, and I had a good experience with that tournament.” “Playing against other teams and watching different styles up close will help us to develop in preparation for the FIFA World Cup.”

Discovering the passion of the Algerian fans

Vladimir Petkovic was born in Sarajevo in 1963 into a Bosnian Croat family. His father was the director of a nursery school and his mother was a teacher, and he had to change schools many times as his family moved around, going from Vrelo Bosne to Hadzici at the age of five. Travelling so much as a young child gave him a passion for adventure that has beenreflected in his career. As a player, he started out in Sarajevo before moving to Switzerland, where he obtained citizenship and ultimately went on to coach the national team for seven years. His managerial career has also spanned Turkiye, Italy and France, proving football’s ability to bring different nationalities together.

“It’s definitely been an enjoyable journey,” Petkovic, also known as the Doctor, said of his career. “I’ve experienced a lot and adapted to different environments, so I’ve found it easy to settle into Algeria. It’s been a very welcoming and motivating environment to come into,” he added. Petkovic quickly adapted to his new role with Algeria, building a good relationship with the press and attending local matches. After their first FIFA Series match, he said, “As I saw at the local matches I attended, the fans here are extremely passionate, and they showed that again against Bolivia.”

Vladimir Petkovic, Head Coach of Algeria, interacts with match referee Abdelaziz Bouh

Following in Halilhodzic’s footsteps

The Eastern European playing style has long been popular in Algeria, having been credited with many of the country’s biggest successes, from Evgeni Rogov, who coached Algeria to their first ever World Cup, to Vahid Halilhodzic, who took the Fennec Foxes to their first ever World Cup knockout round at Russia 2018™. Asked whether the historic success achieved by Eastern European coaches with Algeria would act as added incentive for him to follow suit, Petkovic answered, “It’s definitely acoincidence because we all have our own playing style and we all do things differently. Of course, Vahid did a great job, leading Algeria to their most recent World Cup appearance.”

“Hopefully, or ‘Insha’Allah’ as they say here, we’ll be able to do that again now. We’re going to do our utmost to ensure the national team achieves its goals,” he added. After winning their first FIFA Series 2024 match, Algeria now face a stern test against South Africa, and it is expected that Petkovic will make some changes to his starting XI to see how different players perform as he looks ahead to this June’s World Cup qualifiers against Guinea and Uganda.