May 4 (Reuters) - Algeria captain Antar Yahia, whose stunning volleyed goal took the team to the last World Cup, has announced his retirement from international football a month before the start of qualifiers for the 2014 finals.
“For me it’s a very difficult decision that I have thought about for a long time but at some point you have to leave and let a new generation come through to build something,” the 30-year-old said on the Algerian Football federation website (www.faf.dz)
Yahia’s volleyed shot from an acute angle in the 1-0 playoff win over heavily fancied Egypt in November 2009 ensured Algeria’s first appearance at the World Cup finals since 1986 and made the French-born defender a national hero.
“It is a moment etched in my memory,” added the Kaiserslautern player.
Yahia was also the first person to make use of the change in FIFA statutes that allowed players previously capped by one country at junior level to play for another, as long as they held dual nationality.
He played for France at under-18 level but took advantage of his Algerian roots to switch international allegiance in January 2004.
Algeria begin their 2014 World Cup campaign with a home match against Rwanda on June 2 and away to Mali on June 10 in Group H of the African qualifiers. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing By Alison Wildey)