CURITIBA, June 26: Algeria can make history by qualifying for the second round of the World Cup for the first time in four appearances at the tournament when they face Russia in Curitiba on Thursday.
The Desert Foxes will be assured of their place in the last 16 with a win, but should also progress with a draw so long as South Korea don’t beat the already qualified Belgium by at least three goals in the other match in Group H.
Algeria ended a 32-year wait for a World Cup win in emphatic style with a 4-2 demolition of the Koreans on Sunday, becoming the first African side to ever score four goals in a World Cup game in the process.
Granada midfielder Yacine Brahimi was among those on the scoresheet in Porto Alegre and he is eyeing more glory against a Russian side that has failed to live up to expectations so far.
“It is one of the most important matches of my career, it is a match which can write a new chapter in the history of our country, and that is very much in our heads,” he said on Tuesday.
With just a point needed, Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic is likely to tinker with the side that starred against South Korea with Mehdi Lacen and Riyad Mahrez replacing Abdelmoumene Djabou and Carl Medjani.
And captain Madjid Bougherra has urged his side to keep their feet on the ground after the euphoria of finally ending the wait for a World Cup win.
“I’m very proud to be the captain of an Algerian team that has won a World Cup match for the first time in 32 years,” said the former Rangers defender.
“It’s a great honour for me to make Algerian footballing history as part of this very close-knit squad who put in an exceptional performance.
“The most important thing is for us to play our own game and also play to our strengths. We have made our fans happy with this win and we now have a chance to make it through to the round of 16, but we need to forget about the victory over Korea first and get our feet back on the ground.”
For Fabio Capello’s Russia the match represents a final chance to rectify two disappointing results as they were held 1-1 by South Korea before being beaten 1-0 by Divock Origi’s winner for Belgium two minutes from time on Sunday.
A lot more had been expected of Capello’s men after an impressive record in qualifying, which saw them top their group ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
However, defender Aleksei Kozlov is hoping to wipe away the pain of Belgium’s late winner by bouncing back against Algeria and securing their passage into the next round.
“It’s very difficult to draw any positives when you lose like that,” Kozlov told FIFA.com.
“We’re all disappointed about what happened late on, but we’ve still got a chance of continuing in the tournament. While that’s the case, we can’t start thinking about anything else.”
Capello is also expected to make a few changes with CSKA Moscow’s Alan Dzagoev and Zenit St Petersburg’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov likely to come into the side that started against Belgium.