Porto Alegre: Coach Vahid Halilhodzic has made it clear to Algeria that it’s not the time to ponder and shed tears ahead of Sunday’s crucial tie with South Korea where defeat will spell yet another premature end to their World Cup campaign.
The Algerians, desperate to end a seven-match World Cup winless run, are pointless and at the bottom of the group after a 1-2 loss to Group H favourites Belgium.
With the notable exception of their stunning victory over the then West Germany in the 1982 World Cup, the story of Algeria’s experiences in the competition does not make happy reading for them. The North Africans have never made it past the first round, and Sofiane Feghouli’s penalty against Belgium was their first goal in the competition in 28 years.
With the stakes high, Bosnia-born Halilhodzic told his players to man up. “It’s not the time to cry now. This match is decisive,” the 62-year-old noted disciplinarian said.
Meanwhile, victory for South Korea would put them on the verge of qualifying. The lively Koreans got off to a reasonably decent start in their 1-1 draw with Russia, a performance that gave coach Hong Myung-Bo’s team some encouragement after a lacklustre build-up.
Defender Park Joo-Ho predicts a tight contest. “I don’t think the teams will have a lot of attacking opportunities,” he said. “If we can score on the chances that we get, we should have a good shot at winning.”
Striker Ji Dong-Won suggested the signs were positive for the 2002 semi-finalists who are appearing in their eighth consecutive World Cup. “I watched the game between Algeria and Belgium,” the Bundesliga-based forward, who was on the bench during the previous game, said.
“Algeria’s attacking players are quick and they do have quality. They are not an easy target. If we play the match like we did against Russia, our chances are good then.”
Defender Kim Young-Gwon believes experiences of their opening match will prove beneficial to the young Korean squad. “We didn’t have a lot of players with World Cup experience, but after getting the first match out of the way, I think we have regained our confidence,” he said. (AGENCIES)