Algeria appoint Georges Leekens as coach, 16 days before World Cup qualifier

New Algeria coach Georges Leekens
Georges Leekens previously coached Algeria in 2003

Algeria have appointed Georges Leekens for a second spell as their national coach.

The Belgian, who previously led the team in 2003, replaces Milovan Rajevac, who was ousted by reported player power earlier this month.

Thursday's appointment came just 16 days before Algeria play Nigeria in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.

"This choice was unanimously approved by members of the federal bureau," said the Algerian federation in a statement.

"The commission, having consulted several coaches, had decided on a shortlist of five trainers."

Leekens is the third Algeria coach this year after Serbia's Rajevac replaced Frenchman Christian Gourcuff, who surprisingly stepped down in April with two years left on his contract.

The 67-year-old takes charge just two days after losing his job at Belgian side Lokeren, who have lost eight out of 12 games this season.

The bespectacled coach led Algeria for four months in 2003 before leaving for 'family reasons' just days after qualifying the team for the 2004 Nations Cup.

After the 12 November qualifier in Nigeria, the former Belgium coach will concentrate his efforts on January's 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

Algeria's Desert Foxes
With Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Yacine Brahimi - among others - in their squad, Algeria are one of the favourites to win January's Nations Cup

Algeria, currently ranked third in Africa after a long spell in first place, have been drawn in Group B where they will face Senegal, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Leekens led Tunisia at the last Nations Cup and was moments away from leading the Carthage Eagles to their first semi-finals since winning the tournament in 2004.

Yet a controversial penalty awarded to Equatorial Guinea allowed the host nation to equalise in stoppage time before winning in extra-time, prompting Leekens to call the result a 'shame for football.'

His predecessor Rajevac left the Algeria post after just three months and two unbeaten matches in the job.

This month's 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw at home to Cameroon reportedly prompted the players to complain about his methods.

Rajevac, who led Ghana to the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, had started the match with leading names Yacine Brahimi and Sofiane Feghouli as substitutes.

Algeria are one of the favourites for January's Nations Cup and are seeking a first title since winning on home soil in 1990.