Rustenburg – Algerian coach Vahid Halilhodzic has no explanations.
Although the Foxes came into the Africa Cup of Nations highly rated, they failed to score in Saturday's match against Togo, losing 2-0, and saw themselves eliminated.
“Well, what can I say? Today was disastrous ... I don't know what happened. We built a team to win, (and) it is a team with a bright future. I feel deeply ashamed. It's hard to analyse. I can't blame anybody,” the 60-year-old Bosnian said Saturday night.
“We had our opportunities to score, but we did not score. I really do feel deep shame and I take responsibility for what happened today. We are now going to sit down and think about the future of Algerian football. I feel a very deep attachment to this team and its players.”
Halihodzic said his side had two legitimate penalty shouts ignored and that it had dominated the Togo game, as it did against Tunisia. However, finding the net in both matches was the problem.
“So many missed opportunities. We could perhaps talk about refereeing. We had two clear penalties we (should have been) given. The players are not happy about that. We dominated the game, but didn't manage to score,” he said.
“It's the first time in my life that I have lost two games in a row and, you know, football is a strange game. You ask yourself why we did not score. Maybe the players are not mature enough? If we had gone through the first round, we would have gone very far.”
Pressed as to whether bad luck or poor selection contributed to Algeria's downfall, the former Ivory Coast coach was pragmatic in his response.
“Well, bad luck? Two games, that's a bit too much. I think it was a lack of lucidity in front of goal, while one of the players who rose above the rest will learn from his mistakes today,” the somber Algeria coach said.
Halihodzic never specifically mentioned which player he was discussing.
“Maybe he is not mature enough to perform at that level? We dominated throughout the two games that we played but we did not score goals. I really feel sorry for my players.”
The end of the game was marked by farcical and ugly scenes. First, Algerian striker Adlane Guedioura loosened one of the Togo posts by running into the net, which caused a 15-minute delay and resulted in 13 minutes of stoppage time.
Algerian fans then showed their anger at the end of the match by throwing bottles at their players as they left the pitch.
Halihodzic said that the fate of his team could have been very different if it had progressed beyond the group stage, its head-to-head record the reason for their early demise in the competition.
“Look, it's only been half a year that I have been in this position. Yesterday, I was appreciated and lauded by all and today there is a different story. You saw that, although the team was highly looked upon, although the team was very much appreciated, they have quite a lot of weaknesses,” he said.
“But the question is: can they play better? I want the team to play more risky football. As I said, I accept all responsibility for that.” – Sapa-dpa