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Sacked La Liga man now in charge of Desert Foxes

Sport
Algeria sprang a surprise when they named Spaniard Lucas Alcaraz, as their fourth full-time national coach within 13 months.

He took charge of the struggling “Desert Foxes” just a couple of days after being axed as manager of relegation-threatened Spanish La Liga outfit Granada.

While football officials said in advance of the appointment that the new coach would be Spanish, Alcaraz was not on the Algerian media radar.

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Lucas Alcaraz

They initially believed just-sacked Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka would succeed Belgian Georges Leekens, who quit after a disastrous 2017 Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

Then, Joaquin Caparros was installed as favourite despite being fired by La Liga club Osasuna three months ago after seven straight league losses.

No details of the length or terms of the contract with Alcaraz were released when the appointment was made.

The new man at the helm makes his competitive debut in June when Algeria kick-off their 2019 Cup of Nations qualifying campaign by hosting Togo.

Benin and the Gambia complete a mini-league from which only the winners are guaranteed a place at the 16-nation tournament in Cameroon.

Come September and Alcaraz faces a far greater challenge - must-win home and away 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Zambia. The countries have collected only one point each from two matches, leaving them five points adrift of leaders Nigeria with four rounds remaining.

Draws are of no use to Algeria or Zambia - both teams know that only two victories will potentially get them back into contention in a section completed by Cameroon.

A visit to Cameroon and a visit from Nigeria later this year could be crucial or irrelevant, depending on how they fare against the Zambian “Chipolopolo” (Copper Bullets).

The four-coach Algerian musical chairs began when Frenchman Christian Gourcoff quit so that he could return to his homeland. In came Serb Milovan Rajevac, best known for taking Ghana to the brink of the 2010 World Cup semi-finals in South Africa before losing on penalties to Uruguay.

He lasted just two matches before walking out after reportedly becoming the victim of a dressing-room rebellion. Many of the players allegedly did not like his team selections, his tactics, and his inability to speak French or Arabic.

Leekens stayed a little longer, but failed to win a competitive match.

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