In the last 4 days we’ve seen the good (Nigeria), bad (Ivory Coast) and ugly (Ghana) of African football but Algeria look to have been dismissed too early to show the continent in a good light once again and are capable of beating Russia and booking a spot in the last 16 today.
The Algerians met a Fabio Capello side when locking out England in one of the most dire games of South Africa in 2010 but four years on this a different, far more vibrant and much improved side and one that has already shown they have all the tools to give Capello more Algerian woe.
Algeria were large underdogs for their match against Belgium but more than matched Marc Wilmots’s side after a deserved early penalty saw them take a lead that they kept until the eightieth minute, resolutely frustrating the favourites until they were nosed to the post late on in a fine showing for a side that has gone under the radar, but it was in their end to end encounter against South Korea that we really saw the best of them and circumstances look to be well in their favour tonight.
They mustered just three shots on goal against Belgium but using a more attacking approach took a three-goal lead within 38 minutes that could well have been extended had then been sharper and after South Korea had a strong rally they were then a far greater threat on the counter attack than the Koreans going forward.
And today they should fancy their chances against a Russia side that’s going to be eliminated unless they win. Capello’s side could count themselves unlucky not to have more than a single point, having frustrated Belgium until the 88th minute after finishing their game against South Korea much the stronger. However a dormant approach there is a lot more risky tonight with time of the essence for Capello’s side and apart from an admittedly golden chance from Aleksandr Kokorin they struggled to create much of note.
A draw was just about what they deserved from their first game against South Korea and it’s not hard to think that poor play from Belgium may have kept them in the game for longer than Algeria and they face a very difficult and direct threat tonight from a side that does not look at all inferior to the Europeans. Infact, Algeria presented far more of a threat to Belgium than Russia did and the same incisiveness that cut apart the Koreans presents a real danger to the next hosts’ hopes of progression. Back the Africans to seal the job at 11/4 and take out some insurance of the double chance at 4/5.
1 pt Algeria (11/4 Bet365)
3 pts Algeria +1 (4/5 general)