The Algerian national team, the ‘Desert Foxes’ arrived at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as the highest ranked African team but with no major accomplishment in recallable memory, no star player and an unknown coach, the team was seen by many as one of the teams alongside the likes of Honduras and Iran who were present only to make up the numbers.
To make matters worse, they were scheduled to open their World Cup campaign against a Belgium side which features the likes of Chelsea trio, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs respectively. Put quite simply, nobody gave the North Africans a chance.
It was therefore a massive shock when Algeria took the lead in the 24th minute through Sofiane Feghouli’s penalty, after he had been brought down in the box by Jan Vertonghen. The quite excessive celebration of the goal by Algerian team was however not too much of a surprise, as this was the team’s first goal at the World Cup since 1986 – a whopping 28 years!
For the next 45 minutes of the match, the Algerians soaked up the intense pressure from the Belgians and resisted everything their more illustrious opponents threw at them, raising hopes of a second African victory at the ongoing tournament in what would have been another of the great World Cup upsets in history but in the end, it was not to be. Belgian coach Marc Wilmots made three substitutions and two of them, Fellaini and Dries Mertens struck towards the closing stages of the match to break Algerian hearts and ensure that the Belgians who have been tipped for a potential semi-final berth got a victory which on the balance of play, one must say begrudgingly say they really deserved.
This result leaves Africa with only one win and a draw from the opening round of matches at the 2014 World Cup, courtesy of Ivory Coast’s 2-1 win over Japan and Nigeria’s goalless draw with Iran. Do you think the continent will fare better next time out?
Damilola Orehin is a freelance creative writer with interesting opinions and analysis of sports, entertainment and social issues. He has written on several established print and online platforms and he showcases his deep-rooted passion for a wide variety of sports at tecmosports.blogspot.com.
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