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Tactics: U.S. defend deep

Tactics Board Jul 1, 2014
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Vahid Halilhodzic

Vahid Halilhodzic

Latest Team: Algeria
Previous Squads:

Ivory Coast

2014 FIFA World Cup

  • 4GP
  •  
  • 1Won
  •  
  • 1Draw
  •  
  • 2Lost
  •  

Profile

Previous Clubs/Countries: Velez Mostar, Beauvais, Raja Casablanca, Lille, Stade Rennes, PSG, Trabzonspor, Ittihad Jeddah, Ivory Coast, Dimano Zagreb

Honours: Coupe de France: 2004; CAF Champions League: 1997

With almost 400 club goals to his name, a World Cup appearance, a continental club trophy as manager of one team, two Champions League qualifications with two others and a duo of successful bids to oversee countries claiming spots at World Cups, it would seem Vahid Halilhodzic has achieved it all. It hardly matters that the only trophies he has to his name are the French Cup and the CAF Champions League because Halilhodzic has amassed experience that titles may not always be able to buy.

A prolific striker in his day, Halilhodzic swapped a career as an electrician for lighting up football fields and joined Yugoslavian First Division side Velez Mostar's academy when he was 16 years old. He was a marquee man for the side throughout the 1970s, when he also played for the Yugoslavian under-21 team, with whom he won the 1978 European Championship. He went on to play in France, at Nantes and at PSG, but the death of his mother while he was in Paris caused him to call time on his career.

Tragedy followed him as he embarked on his coaching career, which was borne at the same time as the start of the Bosnian War. He recalled the conflict as making "animals out of people," and fled to begin a managerial career that started in the unlikeliest fashion. Halilhodzic roadtripped around Europe, visiting clubs to try and gain experience and observed the likes of Fabio Capello and Marcelo Lippi but did not get his big break until he went across the Mediterranean to North Africa.

He enjoyed immediate success with Raja Casablanca, the likes of which have not been repeated in any of his other jobs -- of which there have been many. In total, Halilhodzic has coached nine clubs and two countries.

Halilhodzic is stern and makes no secret of the things he dislikes. He once cheekily blamed his inability to leave a lasting imprint on the international stage as a player on his name, telling reporters it may have been "too long for the scoreboard in Belgrade." When he was at PSG, he ranted publicly about his suspicions there was a mole in the squad who was leaking information to the media and he had no qualms calling his sacking from Ivory Coast a political move which left him "disgusted."

It was actually with Ivory Coast that he had his best chance to make an impact on the biggest stage. Halilhodzic was in charge when they qualified for the 2010 World Cup, a tournament for which they were talked up as being Africa's big hope. However, he never got to take them there because the Elephants failed in the African Nations' Cup (ANC) the same year.

That will change with Algeria, a team he has resurrected from the doldrums of the 2010 World Cup, when they finished bottom of their group with a series of lifeless performances. At 61 years old, Halilhodzic has shown them the power of youth, by introducing new faces, and now he will want to put his own stamp on the World Cup.

Strengths: Halilhodzic is known as a hard task-master who has breathed life into a sinking Algerian side by showing them the difference change can make. By infusing them with youth, he also introduced organisation and discipline, turning the Desert Foxes into a confident and compact side. He has also recently allowed his stoic demeanor to take a backseat to some softer emotion and even sang the team song when Algeria qualified for the World Cup.

Weaknesses: His journeyman lifestyle has taken him from Africa to Saudi Arabia but he has not held on to any job except Lille, where his family reside, for longer than two years. Halilhodzic will also leave the Algerian team after the World Cup.

Career high: Winning the CAF Champions Leagues with Raja Casablanca in 1997. He was also in charge of Lille when they progressed from the French Ligue 2 to the Champions League between 1998 and 2000.

Career low: Being sacked by Ivory Coast following their ANC quarterfinal defeat in 2010 to Algeria, the the first match Halilhodzic had lost in 24 outings.

Tactics: Algeria played a 4-3-2-1 formation for most of 2013 and only changed to a 4-2-3-1 structure when the team needed a win against Burkina Faso to seal their qualification for the World Cup. The general structure seems set on one man upfront with either a duo or trio just behind him and four defenders.

Quotes: "I love pressure because that means you have an important match to play, not a game for 15th place in some league or other. You only get tension in Champions League or World Cup games, and that's what I live and work for. I'm very respectful of football. It's my faith. Football has made me suffer from time to time, but it's also given me a lot. I'm indebted to it," Vahid Halilhodzic, in an interview with FIFA.com, explains his love for the beautiful game.

Trivia: He was injured during the Bosnian war in Mostar, a town in the south of the country that was under siege from Croat forces for nine months. When he left Bosnia, his house was burnt down and looted. Halilhodzic decided to go to different clubs, door-to-door style in search of a coaching job and slept in his car while on his early travels.

Words: Firdose Moonda