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  • on 05.07.2014
  • at 10:00 AM
  • by Kevin Hind

World Cup: Watching Algeria in New York 0

New York – Islamic hymns emanated from street food carts on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, in observance of Ramadan. At Cafe Borbone, a non-descript Italian coffeehouse nearby, a middle-aged, working-class, almost all-male crowd gathered for Algeria’s maiden knockout round appearance, with not even a glass of water in sight, a far cry from the chic shisha bars just down the road.

The air was humid, stuffy, and hot. Their blood was hotter. The cafe’s narrow corridors and private back-room parlor – where the most hardline supporters convened – were effectively the private New York lair of Les Fennecs (The Desert Wolves).

“You are not welcome here!”, one perturbed fan shouted at us, demanding a swift exit as lights were switched off to brighten the dim glow of a shoddy television feed.

His angst could be excused given the opponents.

Algeria’s national team once formed the footballing arm of the anti-colonial National Liberation Front (FLN). In 1982, two decades after independence, they became the first African team to defeat European opposition at a World Cup, trumping West Germany in a group stage match. But that achievement did not allow Algeria to advance.

In the final group match, Germany led Austria 1-0, a scoreline that secured passage for both teams at the expense of the North African newcomers. The game stagnated and the score stood. Many on all sides suspected foul play.

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By Vik SohonieAFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Photo credit: Joao Inada

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