“I am very proud, we played a heroic match and we deserved to qualify. We’re very, very proud. We’ve progressed so much over the past three years and this is a real gift,” said Algeria coach Vahin Halilhodzic.
And he has every right to be.
Everyone is aware that Algeria had a hard time against the Russians for a 1-1 draw, but it was all the Les Fennecs needed to able to advance for the Knockout Round of 16 for the World Cup. This is their first time ever to qualify for the next, so this year had been a historical event for the nation.
It was all thanks to Islam Slimani’s spectacular header in the 60 minute, which made all the difference.
Nevertheless, it was Russia who scored first through Alexander Kokorin 6 minute goal, using a guided cross from Dmitry Kombarov.
Even though Russia was fully dominating the match throughout, the Soviet lacked in executing goals, thus, no sequel to Kokorin’s first half magic. It is a shame for the Russians that they have to head home with no glory, as they are the deemed hosts for the World Cup in 2018.
“At this World Cup, I was playing for the present – not for 2018. We could have won it, but we conceded,” Russia team coach Fabio Capello said.
However, Algeria cannot celebrate their victory just yet, as they face the undefeated Germans for their opener on the next round.
“But more than that, I’m proud of the way the team has played. Everyone will now talk about 1982 when Algeria beat Germany, but 32 years ago is a long time!” said the Desert Foxes’ coach.
“It’s a dream come true for me, but it’s not just me – it’s the group that should be praised. We’ve played well and we deserve to qualify. This award is a real bonus, I love to play with this team,” added Slimani, Algerian’s lone scorer.