Belgian Leekens returns to Algeria for second spell with national team

By Samindra Kunti

October 31 – It has been a busy week for Belgian George Leekens (pictured) who is returning to Algeria as national team coach just days after being sacked by his club Lokeren.

Leekens, 67, will succeed Milovan Rajevic from Serbia who was dismissed following Algeria’s draw with Cameroon at home in the opening round of the African World Cup qualifiers for Russia 2018 earlier this month. Rajevic is believed to have fallen out with a number of players from his squad.

The Algerian FA, FAF, had to search for a new coach and stumbled upon an old acquaintance. Leekens led Belgium to the 1998 World Cup in France, where they were eliminated in a group with the Netherlands, Mexico and South Korea. The Belgian coached Tunisia at the 2015 African Cup of Nations. He previously held the role of Algerian coach in 2003 but quit after just six months.

Leekens faces a baptism of fire with a World Cup qualifier away to Nigeria in November. Algeria are favorites to make it to Russia in a group that also contains Cameroon and Zambia.

In January, Algeria will participate in the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon. They have been drawn in group B with Zimbabwe, Tunisia and Senegal.

Leekens was fired by Lokeren after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Oostende left them at the foot of the Belgian league table. Lokeren have collected 12 points from 10 games. Leekens had been at the club for a year.

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