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Algeria's World Cup qualification campaign was key to Essaid Belkalem's Watford move
7:00am Tuesday 15th October 2013 in Latest Sport
Essaid Belkalem says remaining fit for Algeria's World Cup qualifying campaign was a major factor in his decision to join Watford.
Belkalem made his 12th appearance for Algeria at the weekend having also represented the country's Under-23 and Under-20 sides.
The 24-year-old was expected to sign for Udinese in the summer but after representing his country at the World Military Cup, it was decided he would join sister club Granada before linking up with Watford on loan, with the Championship side having the option of making the move permanent.
Belkalem, who was a free agent after his contract with Algerian side JS Kabylie expired, told FIFA.com: "It got a bit complicated with Udinese. I was supposed to start pre-season training with them on 1 July, but I’d already committed myself to playing at the World Military Cup in Azerbaijan. The upshot was that I arrived almost three weeks later than planned. All of the players had been training together; the team had already taken shape," he explained.
"He (Gianfranco Zola) had already shown interest in me last year and he’d kept up-to-date with my situation. He called me to find out what my plans were. There was no time left to search for another club and as I was involved in Algeria’s World Cup qualifying campaign, it was out of the question for me to sit on the bench for six months, so I decided to go to Watford on loan so that I could get some playing time."
Belkalem conceded two penalties on Saturday as Algeria were beaten by Burkina Faso in the first leg of their World Cup play-off. Read more here.
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