New Algeria head coach Vladimir Petkovic says Riyad Mahrez asked to be left out of the squad for the upcoming FIFA Series friendly matches.

Mahrez called me to ask my agreement to not participate in this camp, he is not ready, he has not enough energy to be able to play his role, his big role in the national team” said the Bosnian.

Algeria are looking to win back support following their poor showing at AFCON earlier in the year when they finished bottom of their group. Four teams from different confederations, Algeria (CAF), Bolivia (Canmebol), Andorra (UEFA) and South Africa (CAF), will compete in the mini-tournament in Algeria.

The Desert Foxes will face Bolivia on 22nd March followed by South Africa on 26th March, both at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers. Among other changes, Algeria’s leading goalscorer Islam Slimani is also absent from the squad for the first time in his 12-year international career, and there’s a recall for Said Benrahma, who missed AFCON 2023.

Algeria started their 2026 World Cup qualifiers with two victories, against Somalia and Mozambique.

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