Belgium Vs Algeria – Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte – 7.00PM
Russia Vs South Korea – Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba – 1.00am
Finally, action in the 2014 World Cup gets underway in Group H when Belgium face Algeria at the Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte in the day’s first game before Russia entertain South Korea.
Belgium Vs Algeria:
Despite returning to the tournament for the first time since 2002, Belgium has been earmarked by many pundits as the team to watch out for in Brazil. The Red Devils come into their opening game against the Africans with a wealth of talent expected to carry the team to the latter stages.
All eyes will be on Chelsea FC attacking midfielder Eden Hazard but the side has enough quality in Romelo Lukaku who has been passed fit to play against the Desert Warriors, Vincent Kompany and Simon Mignolet who vies for a starting berth between the posts with Courtous.
Kevin De Bryune and Divock Origi; son to ex-Kenyan international are still nursing injuries and are likely to miss out.
Algeria’s main concern is over midfielder Hassan Yedba, another player with an ankle injury. Otherwise, coach Vahid Halilhodzic has a fully-fit squad, led by captain and ex-Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra.
The two side’s only previous meeting in history was a friendly game in 2002 which the Belgians won 3-1 with Emile Mpenza netting a brace.
Algeria will be aiming to become only the second African nation in this year’s edition to earn victory after Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon all failed. Only Ivory Coast so far has a win; 2-1 victory over Japan.
Russia Vs South Korea:
In what promises to be a truly balanced game, 2018 World Cup hosts Russia face 2002 co-hosts South Korea in the group H game.
Russia will miss the services of skipper Roman Shirokov for the tie after he suffered a bad knee injury. Experienced striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov is expected to lead the hunt for goals for Fabio Capello’s men who need a good show in the 2014 edition before they play hosts four years later.
South Korea head coach Hong Myung-Bo is expected to field an overseas squad that also has English Premiership players such as Ki Sung-Yong, Kim Bo-Kyung and Lee Chung-Yong. Bo was the inspiration captain as the Asians finished in the quarterfinals in 2002. He will be looking to carry the side out of the group stages for only the third time in history after 2002 and 2010.