Germany vs Algeria match preview World Cup 2014: Lakhdar Belloumi calls for revenge over the fix of ’82

Austria and West Germany contrived to knock Algeria out of the group stages in 1982

Salvador

Algeria’s footballers have already made history in Brazil but for Lakhdar Belloumi there is one thing left to do now they have finally made it through the group stage for the first time. The telephone line between Brazil and Algeria is crackling but the message is clear: “We must take revenge on the Germans.”

In Algeria, it is impossible to look forward to today’s last-16 meeting without also looking back, and Belloumi is the ideal man to tell us why. He scored the winning goal when Algeria beat West Germany 2-1 at the 1982 World Cup – a famous victory which would have provided the springboard for the tournament debutants to become the first African team to reach the second phase but for one of the World Cup’s murkier episodes.

“We beat Germany and Chile and if it hadn’t been for the Germans and Austrians cheating us we’d have reached the second round,” he says. Belloumi is referring to the shameless way West Germany and Austria contrived a result in their final group game to send both through at the expense of an Algeria who had defeated Chile in their third fixture 24 hours earlier.

When Horst Hrubesch scored for the Germans after 10 minutes in Gijon, the match was over as a meaningful contest, eventually leading Robert Seeger, commentating for Austria’s state broadcaster ORF, to advise his audience to switch off their TV sets. In those two-points-per-win days, the result meant the two European neighbours joined Algeria on four points – and edged them out on goal difference. “That’s gone into the history books now and it was thanks to Algeria that Fifa changed their rules,” Belloumi adds .“The last group matches are now played at the same time.”

YouTube footage of Belloumi’s decisive strike against Germany suggests the 1982 Algeria were a special team. They were a close-knit group, given the law forbidding any player under 27 from signing overseas, and there is an impressive speed and fluency about the five-man move which culminated with Belloumi sweeping a low cross past the German keeper Harald Schumacher.

It came just 60 seconds after Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had cancelled out an opening goal by Rabah Madjer, a future European Cup final matchwinner with Porto. L’Equipe described the pair as “Les Magnifiques” and their team as “Une Algérie de légende”.

“We beat them our way,” says Belloumi, then 23 and the reigning African Footballer of the Year. “It was a historic match. In the newspapers we’d been belittled before the game – one player said they were going to beat Algeria easily, that they were going to dedicate the seventh goal to their wives and the eighth to their dogs. But on the pitch we were fighters.”

Algeria had to wait 32 more years to see its footballers win again on the global stage. Hence the scale of the celebrations that have followed the Desert Foxes’ 4-2 group success over South Korea and subsequent draw with Russia. “Everybody is happy now because we’ve reached the second round,” says Belloumi. “Now there’s a new generation carrying the torch. We must go into the game against Germany with a spirit of revenge.”

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