Islam Slimani : Algeria’s new goal machine ?
Could Slimania’s exceptional burst to the international scene mean Algeria have found a new goal machinein years to come? The young talented CR Belouizdad striker has just scored four goals in three official matches so far. One can dare say that: the dangerous box player- has already won a place in the Algerian team. It is scarce to see a striker making his international debut attain such efficiency level. He opened his goal scoring tally for the fennecs in his first official outing for the team. He did so by scoring the third goal in their four nil thrashing of Rwanda, during match day one of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, just after coming on as a substitute. Slimani rose once more to the occasion a week later in Ouagadougou in an even hostile environment at the expense of a very solid Malian defence than the one in Rwanda. He could have even registered a double or hat trick had he been more clinical.After having won the confidence of his exigent Franco-Bosnian head coach Vahid Halilhodzic, Slimani bagged a double against Gambia on June 15 as he contributed in Algeria’s progress to the third and final phase of the Orange 2013 Afcon qualifiers. Four goals in four caps, after just three official matches, is not achieved by chance but is prove of talent. He possesses an unarguable physical presence, possesses a serious aerial threat, good technique, has a good work rate and can hold up play to let his team mates into action as has always been the case with his club side CR Belouzdad. Can this sudden success destabilise him? According to many coaches closed to him or who have been closed to him in the past are categoric: the youngster has a very strong mental ability. He would not succumb to the least distraction. According to them it would be very unlikely for the youngster to produce a Nasri-like gesture (with the French team at Euro 2012) with his famous “shut your mouth”, aimed at his critics. To buttress this fact, the youngster’s selection came under high criticisms by those who believe in the foreign-based players but Slimani kept quiet and silenced his critics with a hat-doffing performance against Gambia last Friday as he bagged his first brace for the national team. The next day, he thanked all those who contributed in his rise to prominence and had some soft words for his detractors: “I have worked hard with my club CRB and it is this hard work that paid off,” he told Algerian sports magazine Competition in the wake of their victory over Gambia. “It should be noted that we prepared for a month with the national team, so I think I deserve those goals, the victories as well, in fact everything is merited,” he said. He however had some words for his critics: “I won’t forget all those who criticized me , the goals are my response and a great satisfaction for me.” His mental strength and infinite patience are summarised in the interview granted Planète Sport ,to face Gambia in in mid-February 2012, the evening he learnt he had been called up for the first time with the national team by head coach Vahid Halilhodzic, to face Gambia. He was for sure called up, but only in the provisional squad. The player’s reaction was a reflection of his ambitions and character: “Whatever the case (to be in the provisional squad), it is already a first step for me, I don’t have to be worried. If I am in the provisional squad today, the next time I will be part of the official list, later in the 18-man squad and who knows I might make it in the starting lineup, I just need to believe and work harder.” Three months later, Slimani has gone through all these stages. One thing is certain, the youngster has already won the confidence of his head coach. The Franco-Bosnian praised him after the victory over Gambia: “He is someone who always examines his performances. The first time I saw him, I noticed something positive in him. At last, we have a striker who can score regularly!” He equally praised the striker’s finishing qualities: “He was not even in the initial group but he succeeded to impose his spirit of hard work on the pitch. If I decided to lay my confidence on him, it is because he possesses extraordinary qualities as a striker. In addition to his eye for goal he participates to the general team work. He is efficient in the build-up play.” With these words from his national team boss, it is certain that teams both at home and abroad will come knocking at the doors of Belouizdad to prize the striker away. Profile Slimani Islam Born on 18 June 1988 in Alger, Algeria 1,86 m, 76 kg Position : striker Club: CR Belouzdad, 81 matches, 28 goals, finalist 2012 Algerian cup International caps : 4 caps, 4 goals