Algeria fight to progress, and to right 1982 wrong

Durban: Algeria will seize on a slim chance of qualifying to the second round after their spirited display against England, and in so doing try to erase memories of the injustice of their exit at the 1982 World Cup.

Algeria, who had looked nervous in their opening 1-0 defeat by Slovenia, appeared a changed team in their Group C tie with England and for long spells looked the sharper of the two.

The North Africans, who had replaced goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi with Rais Ouheb Mbouli, were the crisper passers and had more movement.

After the game they looked confident and proud in contrast to a dejected England, even though they had also struggled to find the net in the goalless draw.

"We haven`t been in a World Cup for 24 years, and through matches like this in stadiums like this we grow and bring the level of our team up. We have capacity and potential. But we have to maintain the level of our performance," coach Rabah Saadane said after the match.

"The group is still open for every team to qualify so we have to use our potential and play for that."

Algeria are bottom of Group C with one point, but could still qualify if they beat the United States depending on the outcome of the England v Slovenia match.

History will weigh heavily on the team, who watched a film about their country`s bloody independence struggle before the England game, when they meet the United States in Pretoria on Wednesday and try to advance to the second round for the first time.

At the Spain World Cup of 1982, Algeria`s first appearance in the tournament, the Desert Foxes had looked sure to progress from the group stage after a shock victory over West Germany.

Austria knew they would still reach the next round with a narrow defeat while Germany needed to win to advance. Both sides met at a stage when Algeria had already completed its games.

In what has been dubbed even by the Austrian Football Board (OEFB) as a match of shame, Germany went 1-0 up over Austria after 10 minutes, from which point both teams simply strolled around the pitch with neither mounting an attack.

The result, which robbed Algeria of its second phase place, led to a change in the regulations, after which final group matches were played simultaneously.

"We had deserved to take a point from the first game which we missed out on, so I am glad we got a point now. We had more possession and we are getting more confident," said midfielder Hassan Yebda after the England game.

"We are very hungry to win. I want to give my best for Algeria to qualify, and also for Africa."

Bureau Report

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