Porto Alegre (Brazil): Coach Vahid Halilhodzic has told Algeria now is not the time for tears ahead of tomorrow’s date with South Korea where defeat will spell yet another premature ending to a World Cup campaign.
The Algerians, desperate to end a seven-match World Cup winless run, are pointless and bottom after a 2-1 loss to Group H favourites Belgium.
With the notable exception of their stunning 1982 upset of Germany aside, the story of their World Cup experiences does not make happy reading for the proud Algerians.
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, Bosnian-born Halilhodzic told his men to man up.
“Now is not the time for crying, this match is decisive,” the 62-year-old noted disciplinarian said.
Victory meanwhile in Porto Alegre for South Korea would put them on the verge of qualifying.
Pacy Korea produced a solid debut in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Russia, a performance that gave coach Hong Myung-Bo’s team encouragement after a lacklustre build-up.
Korean defender Park Joo-ho is predicting a tight tussle.
“I don’t think either team will have a lot of attacking chances,” he said.
“If we can score on the chances that we do get, we should have a good shot at winning.”
Korean striker Ji Dong-Won suggested the signs were positive for the 2002 semi-finalists who are appearing at their eighth consecutive World Cup but who have only made it past the first round twice since 1986.
“I watched the game between Algeria and Belgium,” the Bundesliga-based forward who was on the bench for Russia said this week.
“Algeria’s attacking players are quick and each has their own quality. Algeria are not an easy target. If we play the match (against Algeria) like we did with Russia, then our chances are good.”
Defender Kim Young-gwon believes the opening run-out will have proved 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.
Korea will be looking to the likes of Son Heung-min, elected man-of-the-match against Russia, to put in another sparky effort in attacking midfield.
Son, one of three Koreans who will miss the finale against Belgium if they pick up a second booking, picked out Feghouli as one of Algeria’s dangermen.
“Feghouli showed great form with Valencia this season and proved to be a threat on the field. Knowing that, we have to make sure he doesn’t become a threat,” said the Bayern Leverkusen star.
As Feghouli, one of nine players against Belgium born in France, concedes, the pressure is on.
“It will be historic if we qualify, we have to fight like lions,” said the La Liga winger, who represented his country of birth at under 18 and 21 level, before switching allegiances to Algeria.
“We have quality players, we’ll do everything to go through,” the 24-year-old told his club’s website.
Algeria captain Madjid Bougherra said there were positives to extract from their first game.
“Despite the loss we have a solid team and don’t forget we put Belgium, one of the best sides in Europe, under pressure.”