Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic told his players before Sunday’s clash with South Korea that now was not the time to start crying with yet another first round knock-out a depressing possibility after an opening loss to Belgium.
There were tears alright on an idyllic sunny afternoon in Porto Alegre, but of joy, after a pulsating “heroic” 4-2 win over the 2002 semi-finalists pushed the North Africans to the brink of an historic passage to the second round.
The Desert Foxes were celebrating their first World Cup win since beating Chile in the 1982 finals shortly after a remarkable victory over football superpower, the former West Germany. And their canny Bosnian-born coach remarked: “I dedicate this victory to all the Algerian supporters who have waited for this for 32 years.
“This was a victory for pride.
“Now we play a third match, a play-off against Russia and anything is possible.”
The Koreans were trailing by three goals by the time they sought refuge in the dressing room at the interval as a slick quick intelligent Algeria had them rattled with goals from man of the match Islam Slimani, Raficki Halliche and Abdelmoumene Djabou.
In the second half goals from Korea’s Song Heung-Min and Koo Ja-Cheol sandwiched Algeria’s fourth from Yacine Brahimi.
Algeria are the first side from Africa to rack up that number of goals in a World Cup match.
Slimani was one of five changes from the opening line-up with Halilihodzic observing: “This was a well prepared tactic, we closely analysed the Korean way of play.
“With some new fresh players we put in place a format that could trouble Korea.
“And the players followed my instructions to the letter.
This outcome, as spectacular as it was unexpected, sees Algeria go into their Group H closer on three points as opposed to Russia’s one point, with Korea, also stuck on one point, facing already qualified Belgium.
Somewhat disingenuously perhaps Halilhodzic suggested to the post-match press conference that it was Fabio Capello’s Russians rather than Algeria that were in pole to qualify.