(AFP) – Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic said the country is ecstatic at not only making the second round of the World Cup for the first time but of getting a chance of revenge against Germany next Monday.
Bosnian Halilhodzic — who has rewarded the loyalty of the Algerian football authorities for not sacking him last year despite a poor showing in the Africa Cup of Nations — said the infamous 1982 match between Austria and neighbours the then West Germany remained ingrained in Algerians memories.
Thirty-two years ago Algeria were controversially eliminated from the World Cup on goal difference when West Germany — whom the Algerians had sensationally beaten 2-1 in their group game — and Austria played out a mutually beneficial 1-0 win for the Germans.
The match became known as ‘the game of shame’.
Algeria set up what is bound to be a highly-charged game with a 1-1 draw with Russia on Thursday to secure their historic qualification.
“We have not forgotten about it. Everyone talks about Algeria and Germany from 1982,” said Halilhodzic.
“Thirty-two years ia a long time, but I am very proud of what we have achieved tonight and we deserve to be here.
“Algeria played a heroic match and our qualification for the second round is perfectly deserved.”
“This is the result of what we have done for the past three years, we have progressed a lot. This is the reward.
“I love it as a coach when I see my team fighting like this.”
Halilhodzic, who played for the then Yugoslavia in the 1982 World Cup, admitted, however, that the present German side looks a formidable opponent.
“I saw the game against the United States (Germany won 1-0 on Thursday to top their group). They are an outstanding team, so it will be difficult, indeed I would go further and say extremely complicated.”
The Algerian press didn’t care two hoots about that with the official Algerian agency APS reaching for the skies in terms of hyperbole.
“Perhaps one has to go back to July 5 1962, and independence for Algeria (from France), in order to recall such fervour and such an explosion of joy,” it rejoiced.
Halilhodzic, a much-travelled coach who numbers among his former employers Paris Saint Germain and Ivory Coast, said he did not believe that Algeria was the flag bearer for Arabic countries but for all those who cheered for the underdog.
“After our match against South Korea (a 4-2 victory which was their first at a World Cup finals since beating Chile in 1982), we received congratulations from all over the world,” he said.
“Algeria has not only gained the sympathy of the Arab countries but also in my homeland of Bosnia, in Croatia… here in Brazil people appreciate our behaviour.
“There are better teams than ours, but this team has won a lot of supporters in these finals.
“Against Germany we will be the small team against the giants and the Brazilian fans will be on our side. We will do everything in our power not to let them down.”