25 January 2013

Algeria/Togo: Desert Foxes Have Backs Against Wall

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix
Rafik Djebbour of Algeria is challenged by Jay Demerit of United States at the World Cup in 2010.

Algeria have admitted that it is win or bust for them in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Group D clash with Togo in Rustenburg on Saturday.

The north African side were surprise 1-0 losers to Tunisia in their opener, a lacklustre display in which they did nothing to live up to their status as the second-best team on the continent.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic has received a barrage of criticism from back home over his team selection and the mental preparation of the players for this tournament, but he is convinced he can turn things around.

However, anything but a win will see them needing victory in their final pool match against Cote d'Ivoire next week to go any further, a daunting prospect. Defeat could see them eliminated by that stage already.

"There is some force in this team," Halilhodzic told reporters. "We will do everything to try to win the second match because now we find our backs against the wall. We are left with no other choice but to go for the win.

"I have followed the Togo team, they made a super match against Ivory Coast and perhaps they didn't deserve to lose. They created a lot of opportunities. It is a very strong team physically also."

The "win at all costs" message is backed up by goalkeeper Rais Mbohli: "There is no choice. We know what we must do... we must bring the victory and that's all."

It should mean a far more attacking approach from Halilhodzic than in that loss to Tunisia, or their final warm-up match against South Africa on January 12, which finished 0-0 with chances few and far between.

Togo coach Didier Six was furious at the manner of his side's 2-1 loss to Cote d'Ivoire in their opener, blaming the match officials for inconsistencies. He too knows that nothing short of victory will likely suffice.

"We must now regroup quickly and get ready for our must-win contest against Algeria. We must win because that is the only way we can reach the last eight of the tournament," Six said.

"We managed to contain, or even more, the Ivory Coast. Sabri [Lamouchi, the Ivorian coach], who is a friend, said to me 'we didn't deserve to win today'. It's always easy to say that when you have the three points, but it's true."


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