Watford's Guedioura omitted from Algeria squad

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Adlene Guedioura
Adlene Guedioura scored the winner for Watford in their 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win over Arsenal on Sunday

Adlene Guedioura is a shock omission from Algeria's 23-man squad for the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia later this month.

The 30-year-old scored the winner for Watford in their 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday, but his effort was not enough to earn him a place in Christian Gourcuff's squad.

Back in November Guedioura starred against Tanzania as Algeria sealed a place in the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Former France youth international striker Yassine Benzia, who pledged his senior future to Algeria last month, has been handed a maiden call-up, while there is a recall for fit-again Dinamo Zagreb striker Hilal Soudani.

Ishak Belfodil, Baghdad Bounedjah and Djamel Mesbah are all notable absentees.

But influential quintet of Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez, Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, Valencia's Sofiane Feghouli, Islam Slimani and former BBC African Footballer of the year Yacine Brahimi are all included.

Algeria will host Ethiopia in Blida on 25 March before travelling to Addis Ababa for the reverse fixture four days later.

The Desert Foxes sit top of Group J on six points following back-to-back wins over Seychelles and Lesotho.

Meanwhile, Frenchman Gourcuff has told the local media that he is delighted to be back in charge and focusing on the task ahead after spending time in his native country to reflect on his future with the Desert Foxes late last year.

The 60-year-old came under intense criticism from fans and the media over his selection policy, particularly after their friendly defeat to Guinea in October.

His tempestuous relationship with the country's critical media and their demanding fans escalated following a shock 2-2 draw with Tanzania in the first leg of their World Cup qualifier in Dar-Es-Salaam in November.

Algeria had gone 2-0 down in that match, but they crushed Tanzania 7-0 in the return leg in Blida to win 9-2 on aggregate.

Algeria squad:

Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi (Antalyaspor, Turkey), Azzeddine Doukha (JS Kabylie), Malik Asselah (CR Belouizdad)

Defenders: Hichem Belkaroui (Nacional Madeira, Portugal), Ramy Bensebaini (Montpellier, France), Nacerddine Khoualed (USM Alger), Aissa Mandi (Reims, France), Carl Medjani (Levante, Spain), Mehdi Zeffane (Rennes, France), Khoutir Mohamed Ziti (JS Kabylie), Faouzi Ghoulam (Napoli, Italy).

Midfielders: Mehdi Abeid (Panathinaikos, Greece), Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham, England), Ryad Boudebouz (Montpellier, France), Yacine Brahimi (Porto, Portugal), Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia, Spain), Walid Mesloub (Lorient, France), Saphir Taïder (Bologna, Italy).

Forwards: Yassine Benzia (Lille, France), Rachid Ghezzal (Lyon,France), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester, England), Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Al Arabi Hilal Soudani (Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia)