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Battling Algerians ‘savouring’ a chance of revenge over Germans Capello rages at laser beam as Russia crash out of WC

CURITIBA, Brazil, June 27, (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.” Russia boss Fabio Capello said a laser beam that distracted goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and poor officiating had been to blame as his side crashed out of the World Cup with a 1-1 draw against Algeria on Thursday.

Television images showed the laser pen had been shone in Akinfeev’s face seconds before Islam Slimani’s second-half equaliser which sent Algeria into the last 16 for the first time. “He was blinded by the laser beam. There are pictures and you can see that in the footage,” said the Italian “About the lasers it is not an excuse. The goalkeeper was unable to do his job. The laser beam was in his face.” Capello was also not happy with the free-kick that led up to Algeria’s goal on a night which had started so promisingly for Russia when Alexander Kokorin had headed them into a sixth minute lead. “If there is something I have to complain about in this World Cup it is the treatment of the referees.

“I have always kept my mouth shut, but now it is over I can speak. The referee should have blown for a foul on our player before he gave a free-kick to Algeria. “We didn’t make any mistakes today. We played an excellent game, we scored a goal and their goalkeeper made a couple of excellent saves up until this moment of the free-kick.” Russia’s failure to qualify for the last 16 continues Capello’s poor record of just one win in seven games as a coach at the World Cup having overseen England’s 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany in the last 16 four years ago.

However, he defended his record in charge of both countries and said he plans to continue in his current role until Russia host the tournament in 2018. “As long as they still want me I will stay,” he added. “We will have to ask the management that question. With England we went to the round of 16. I qualified England to play in the European Championships and the World Cup and the figures I got with their national team were respectable. “With this team we got to a World Cup for first time 12 years. I think I have done a pretty good job so far and it is unfortunate we didn’t go through.” There were very different emotions for Algeria boss Vahid Halilhodzic who is relishing the chance to take on Germany in the last 16 in Porto Alegre on Monday.

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