ALGERIA coach Vahid Halilhodzic hopes his side can better their country’s “super” team of the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ by qualifying for the second round for the first time in their history when they face Russia on Thursday.
The Desert Foxes will seal their place in the Round of 16 with a win, but should just need a draw barring a heavy victory for South Korea over Belgium. Algeria missed out on the second round 32 years ago on goal difference after West Germany and Austria played out a 1-0 win for the Germans in the last group game seeing both sides progressing..
“We have spoken a lot about the 1982 generation and that was a super team,” said Halilhodzic. “So that was the first Algerian team to succeed so impressively and we will see their heirs tomorrow.
“I think it is probably the most important match of my career, but it is also the most important match for Algeria. It is a qualification match for the second round and when I see great champions being eliminated already and the Algerian team now looking to get to the second round it is a historical match.”
For Fabio Capello’s Russia, the match represents a final chance to rectify two disappointing results as they were held 1-1 by Korea Republic before being beaten 1-0 by Divock Origi’s winner for Belgium two minutes from time on Sunday.
A lot more had been expected of Capello’s men after an impressive record in qualifying, which saw them top their group ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. However, Halilhodzic believes they have deserved more from their opening two games, particularly against Belgium.
“Russia is certainly not a small country in football and I have watched all their matches since the qualification round. They topped their group and have one of the best coaches in the world. They deserved more in the match against Belgium. They counter-attacked very well and we suffered with that against Belgium too.”
For the second time this week neither side was able to train on the pitch in the Arena da Baixada the day before the game and Halilhodzic is concerned it could affect his more technically gifted players.
“I went to see the pitch and it is not in great condition, so I have asked them to water it. We have technical advantages and I hope my players will be able to cope with that kind of pitch and show their talent.”-Cafonline