Rafa Benitez heading for club v country row
Rafa Benitez could be heading for a club v country battle of wills in March.
Algeria sacked their manager after a dismal qualifying campaign for this summer’s finals in Russia.
Nigeria topped Group B ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and then Algeria at the very bottom with only four points from their six matches.
After an excellent showing in Brazil, when Algeria got through the group stages and were only knocked out in extra time by Germany in the last 16, the terrible qualifying campaign didn’t go down well with the Algerian football public.
Lucas Alacaraz was subsequently sacked and Rabah Madjer appointed as his successor in October 2017.
Islam Slimani is a key part of the Algeria national team and he scored four goals in six starts during the qualifying campaign, which ended up not being enough to help them make it to Russia.
November 2017 saw the first matches under the new boss and Rabah Madjer selected Islam Slimani to start both games.
Algeria drawing 1-1 with Nigeria and then beating the Central African Republic 3-0, with Slimani scoring the third goal.
On the 21 March Algeria are at home to Tanzania in a friendly and then 26 March they will travel to Iran for another friendly.
Islam Slimani has been at Newcastle a month and after arriving with a thigh injury he still hasn’t been able to get out on the pitch.
Despite this and Rafa Benitez indicating on Friday that the striker will miss at least another two weeks of cub football, the Algerian media are reporting that Rabah Madjer is still expecting Islam Slimani to report for international duty, even if he hasn’t managed a single minute for Newcastle by that point.
The player last played on 16 January for Leicester, so it is set to be 10 weeks without any club football by the time Algeria play.
By that point Newcastle will only have five or six games (depending on when the Spurs match is) where Islam Slimani can potentially play, so the idea of the striker going off on international duty would be very hard for Rafa and the Newcastle fans to take.
A collision course looks all but guaranteed, unless Islam Slimani stays injured…
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