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BRAZIL BEAT: Redemption for Algeria coach

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 22, 2014 at 6:58 pm •  Published: June 22, 2014
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PORTO ALGRE, Brazil (AP) — Algeria's coach had just steered his team to a 4-2 win over South Korea that resurrected its World Cup, its first win in the tournament since 1982. But he said his critics in the Algerian media were so bitter toward him they would have preferred to see the team lose.

"You journalists have always criticized me, but the Algerian fans have always been behind us," said Vahid Halilhodzic, a Bosnian who took over the national side in July 2011. "It's a pity for you. I'm sorry for you. Maybe you are sad, but this is how it is."

Halilhodzic has long had a testy relationship with the media and the Algerian federation and has been under intense pressure to win.

After an opening 2-1 loss to Belgium, many Algerian journalists criticized his team selection and his strategy, which they judged to be too defensive. The 61-year-old spent much of his news conference Saturday defending himself.

Asked by a Brazilian journalist why his country's media was so against him even after the victory, he didn't speculate but answered simply: "Why not ask them? They are here in front of you."

By Chris Brummitt — www.twitter.com/cjbrummitt

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ROAD TRIP

SAO PAULO (AP) — A group of seven Dutch men have arrived in Sao Paulo after a 13-day journey from Bolivia in an orange hippie van that dates back at least 45 years.

They like to joke that they spent more time underneath the van, fixing the engine, than traveling in it.

For the group of friends it was a trip worth making to engage others in South America in the Orange cause.

In one of the places the van broke down, they had to ask police officers if they could watch the Netherlands-Australia match last Wednesday at a station in Ribas do Rio Pardo. The town is halfway between Cochabamba, where they set out on their trip, and the city of Sao Paulo, where the Netherlands takes on Chile on Monday.

"They said, 'You just have to be very quiet because there are criminals here who can't see the match,'" said Udo van Heteren, a 29-year-old from Utrecht.

— By Adriana Gomez Licon — www.twitter.com/agomezlicon

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POPE & MESSI

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — One man appears to have taken it upon himself to stoke a rivalry that needs little additional heat.

Forget the inevitable "goooaaaaal" cry. Alejandro Fantino — commentator for Argentina's main sports radio station, La Red — used Lionel Messi's 93rd-minute score against Iran on Saturday to launch his second anti-Brazil tirade in as many games.

Highlights included: "I have the Pope. I have Messi. You don't have anything."

After Messi's goal secured Argentina a 2-1 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina in the opening World Cup match, Fantino decided to take on Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club. He claimed Messi's late score was for "those Flamengo supporters who questioned Argentina" and "criticized the team."

Meanwhile, a popular Brazilian sports newspaper responded to Argentina's opening victory with a front page headline asking, "Is that it?"

— By Luke Norman

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PATIENCE REWARDED

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Hundreds of fans spent hours in front of the team hotel in Brasilia to try to get a glimpse of the Brazilian players Sunday.

There was not a lot they could see from outside the gates, but they were rewarded when goalkeeper Julio Cesar showed up. Cesar stayed with the fans for nearly an hour, signing jerseys and posing for photos.

Brazilian players were allowed to welcome relatives inside their hotel Sunday, a rare opportunity to be with their loved ones during the tournament.

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