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BRAZIL BEAT: Redemption for Algeria coach

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Photo - Algeria's head coach Vahid Halilhodzic celebrates after his side won the game 4-2 in the group H World Cup soccer match between South Korea and Algeria at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Algeria's head coach Vahid Halilhodzic celebrates after his side won the game 4-2 in the group H World Cup soccer match between South Korea and Algeria at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
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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.

Nearby, a few Cameroon fans stayed outside their team's hotel, but no player had showed up to greet them by early afternoon.

Brazil will play Cameroon on Monday in their final Group A match. The hosts need at least a draw to advance to the second round, and a win will likely secure first place. Cameroon is already eliminated after losing its first two matches.

— By Tales Azzoni — www.twitter.com/tazzoni

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WAINWRIGHT'S SUPPORT

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright showed up at Busch Stadium displaying his backing of the U.S. World Cup team.

A day after beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 to improve to 10-3, Wainwright had the American flag painted on his face when he went out to stretch with his St. Louis teammates before Sunday's series finale.

The native of Brunswick, Georgia, is an avid soccer fan and said he was looking forward to the U.S. game against Portugal later Sunday. Wainwright kept the paint on during the playing of the national anthem, then removed it before the first pitch.

Wainwright, who attended 1994 World Cup matches in Orlando, Florida, said his wife did the painting.

"Let's do this," he said.

— Steve Overbey

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REX IN RIO

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Compared to running with the bulls, this offseason excursion was quite tame for Rex Ryan.

The New York Jets coach was spotted at Maracana Stadium in Rio during Sunday's World Cup game between Belgium and Russia. Last July, Ryan joined thousands of thrill-seekers in the annual running of the bulls at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain.

Ryan spent some time around world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal when the national team was training at the NFL club's practice facility in New Jersey before the World Cup. No doubts on Ryan's loyalties, though. Portugal faces the American squad later in the day in the jungle city of Manaus, and Ryan was wearing a U.S. shirt at the Maracana on Sunday.

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STICKER SHOCK

CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — Panini sticker album swappers were doing a brisk trade Sunday morning in Curitiba, just as they have been since the start of the World Cup.

Over 100 people of all ages gather at Ukraine Square every morning to try to fill their albums with the likes of Brazilian star Neymar, Argentina wonder Lionel Messi, or Portuguese phenom Cristiano Ronaldo.

But even though Miraslov Klose matched the World Cup record of 15 goals scored in the finals, the Germany striker's card was no hotter a commodity than any other one as collectors just look to fill their sticker albums, period.

"It's been as busy as this since the World Cup started, no difference from morning to morning," said 20-year-old Thiago Zortea as he shuffled through cards in search of a certain number so he could make a trade. "Klose is no different from (Japan's Keisuke) Honda."

The dealing will go on right until the July 13 final, with vendors attaching themselves to the square to sell drinks and popcorn to hungry parents and kids, as they all entertain swaps with one another.

— By Paul Logothetis — www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP

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Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014

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