Slovenia beats 10-man Algeria 1-0 in World Cup
Robert Koren scored a late goal Sunday to give Slovenia a 1-0
win over 10-man Algeria and first place in Group C of the World
The Slovenian captain sent in a long-range shot that Algeria
goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi misjudged and allowed to bounce into the
net off his arm in the 79th minute.
“I was just lucky to see it go in like that,” Koren said.
Algerian coach Rabah Saadane said the new World Cup ball may
have been a factor in the goal.
“Everyone saw what happened with the ball, and what happened
yesterday with England’s goalkeeper,” Saadane said. “You have to
adjust to the flight of the ball.”
Algeria substitute Abdelkader Ghezzal had been sent off seven
minutes earlier, picking up a second yellow card for handling the
ball inside the Slovenian penalty area.
It was the tiny Balkan nation’s first ever World Cup victory
after losing all three group matches at the 2002 tournament.
Algeria twice came close in the first half when Nadir Belhadj’s
25-meter (yard) free kick forced Slovenia goalkeeper Samir
Handanovic to stretch and push the ball over the crossbar, and
defender Rafik Halliche headed just wide.
Both sides knew heading into the match that a loss would be
costly, with difficult encounters against England and the United
States left on the program. The Group C favorites drew 1-1 Saturday
after a blunder by goalkeeper Robert Green cost England the
Saadane said Chaouchi apologized to the team for fumbling the
ball when Slovenia scored Sunday.
“We must recover and prepare for an even more difficult match
against England, which is the best of the group,” Saadane said.
“It’s going to be very difficult now. We had a great opportunity
today and we missed it.”
The players in Polokwane showed nerves in the first half,
frequently losing possession with inaccurate passes and
Slovenia’s only scoring chance before the break was Valter
Birsa’s long-range attempt in the 43rd, tipped over the bar in a
spectacular right-hand save by Chaouchi.
There was some commotion in the stands during the break when
former France great Zinedine Zidane, who is of Algerian descent,
was forced to climb to a higher section to get away from
autograph-seeking Algerian fans who were pushed back briskly by
The Group C game at the newly built Peter Mokaba Stadium was the
first ever World Cup match played on a surface partly consisting of
artificial grass. Similar turf is being used at some major stadiums
“I do not agree with this turf,” Slovenia coach Matjaz Kek
said. “It’s no excuse, it’s the same for Algeria as well. But it
is a different game on this surface.”
The match could have taken a different turn two minutes before
Koren’s winner when Algeria midfielder Karim Ziani caught defender
Marko Suler off guard and pushed toward the Slovenian goal but was
cut off by Handanovic.
Algeria pressed for an equalizer in the final minutes but was
unable to break through the Slovenian defense.
“It was a mental victory,” Kek said. “We wanted to win so
much so it’s great for our confidence to get that win.”
Algeria beat North African rival Egypt in a tense playoff to
qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Slovenia
reached its second World Cup with an upset playoff victory over
Slovenia faces the United States next while Algeria travels to
Cape Town to take on England.
Algeria: Fawzi Chaouchi, Madjid Bougherra, Nadir Belhadj, Anther
Yahia, Rafik Halliche, Medhi Lacen, Rafik Djebbour (Abdelkader
Ghezzal, 58), Karim Matmour (Rafik Saifi 81), Karim Ziani, Hassen
Yebda, Fouad Kadir (Adlane Guedioura, 82).
Slovenia: Samir Handanovic, Miso Brecko, Marko Suler, Bostjan
Cesar, Robert Koren, Valter Birsa (Nejc Pecnik, 84) Milivoje
Novakovic, Bojan Jokic, Zlatko Dedic (Zlatan Ljubijankic, 53),
Andraz Kirm, Aleksander Radosavljevic (Andrej Komac, 87).