Tears of joy as Algeria end 32-year wait for World Cup win
'Desert Foxes' make African World Cup history with four-goal rout of South Korea
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, all right, 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.”
WATCH: Slimani puts Algeria 1-0 up
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 Halilhodzic 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.
“In the first half we were great in every area. In the second, we let up a little against a well-organised rival, there were a couple of hot moments in defence but we were prepared for that.”
WATCH: Algeria make it 2-0
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 it was Fabio Capello’s Russians rather than Algeria that were in pole to qualify.
“Russia are favourites, but we can't hide. We have to go in search of this qualification with even more audacity and suffering.”
That game is on Thursday in Curitiba.
WATCH: Algeria's third from Djabou
At precisely the same time over in Sao Paulo, Korea will try to upset Belgium. The two closing group games are synchronised for identical kick-offs as a direct result of the plight suffered by Algeria in 1982.
Despite beating the Germans and Chile they failed to qualify as Austria and Germany went into their final game knowing the outcome of Algeria’s game and orchestrated a cynical 1-0 win for the Germans which put both of them in the next round and earned the game the title the ‘Non-Aggression Pact of Gijon’.
South Korea coach Hong Myung-bo held his hands up after the loss, blaming an error in strategy on the defeat that leaves their hopes looking slim.
Hong is an iconic figure in Seoul after captaining the side that made it into the last four when the World Cup was co-hosted by the Koreans 12 years ago.
He will now have to call on all his footballing acumen to mastermind an upset of Belgium.
“We studied their style of playing but the result suggests it wasn’t ideal,” Hong said. “The result is sufficiently eloquent, our strategy wasn’t the right one. As we let in a lot of goals there was an error in our approach.”
He also took aim, as Algeria did so effectively in the first half when they were up 3-0, at his defenders.
“I would have preferred the defenders to have been more stable. The results show that they haven’t concentrated enough.”
This is the Koreans’ eighth successive World Cup but they have only managed to make the second round twice in that run, in 2002 and in 2010 when they lost to Uruguay in the last 16.