Ghana’s group opponent at the upcoming Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, Algeria have suffered a big injury blow ahead of their campaign in Ghana after star striker Naïma Bouhenni was ruled out of the tournament.
The 33-year old has been left out of coach Radia Fertoul’s provisional squad of 24 names because of an ankle injury.
Algeria will play in group A of the eight-team Africa Cup of Nations alongside Mali, Cameroon and hosts Ghana who they will face in the opening game on 17 November.
Defending champions Nigeria will play in Group B alongside South Africa, Zambia and Kenya.
Bouhenni who has been hit with the injury blow, regarded as the best player in the Algerian team, injured her ankle during a Nations Cup warm-up match with Morocco in Rabat last month, which they lost 3-1.
She is due to undergo surgery, and will not recover in time for Ghana 2018 – which would have been her fourth Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, having featured at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 tournaments.
Coach Fertoul who took over the team in September after the resignation of Azzedine Chih, told reporters in Algiers that she will miss her star player but said their goal is still to go beyond the first round for the first time.
“The team will do their utmost to pass the first round. We are in a tough group but we will take our chances thoroughly.
“I regret the absence of my best player in Naima Bouhani who got injured in our preparation match against in Morocco.”
The provisional squad is due to travel to Abidjan on Sunday for a week long training camp where they are scheduled to play two friendly matches before the required 21 players are picked to represent Algeria at the finals.
The final squad will depart for Ghana from Abidjan on 13 November.
Algeria previously played in four Women’s Nations Cup tournaments, in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
The tournament in Ghana also serves as qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup with the top three African teams securing a place at France 2019.