South Africa (Reuters) – Sunday’s match between Algeria and Slovenia will be the first at any World Cup to be played on a surface which is not 100 percent grass.
FIFA decided to test a grass mixed with synthetic turf in the Polokwane and Nelspruit stadiums in South Africa and the teams were relieved to have had the chance to practice on the pitch a day before the match.
“It’s brand new turf for us,” said Algerian defender Majid Bougherra. “It’ll be a pretty fast game,” he said when asked about the surface.
Slovenian defender Bostjan Cesar said the field was very even. “Sometimes it might be a bit unusual for the Slovenians — but the ball runs smoothly,” he told reporters.
Sunday will mark Algeria’s first appearance in the World Cup finals in 24 years. They are the only African team in the competition to have an African coach but have been dogged by injury.
Slovenia hope to clinch their first victory in a major competition after failing to win a match in Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup finals.
(Editing by Jon Bramley)