But the Franco-Bosnian is expected to be in the dugout when Algeria play their opening Group H match against Belgium in Belo Horizonte on June 17, returning to the finals 32 years after playing for Yugoslavia at the 1982 tournament in Spain.
The 61-year-old has had a tempestuous relationship with his Algerian employers that at times threatened a premature exit, much in the same way he lost his job before the 2010 World Cup.
On that occasion he coached Ivory Coast through a comfortable qualifying campaign and long unbeaten run but a shock defeat to Algeria in the 2010 African Nations Cup quarter-final in Angola just months before the tournament in South Africa cost him his job.
Halilhodzic was a prolific striker with Velez Mostar before heading to France, winning Ligue 1 with Nantes in 1983 and also playing for Paris St Germain. He was in the Yugoslavia side at the 1982 World Cup, making two substitute appearances.
As a coach, Halilhodzic took Lille from Ligue 2 to the Champions League and also had stints at Stade Rennes and Paris St Germain. In 1997 he won the African Champions League as coach of Morocco’s Raja Casablanca.
And while he may have a reputation as a being a little feisty at times, he is nothing if not experienced having also coached in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Croatia.
While no-one realistically expects Algeria to win the World Cup, there are still a number of tangible targets for the side.
“We’re a small nation and our first objective is to win a match and then, if possible, qualifying for the second round because Algeria has never done that before.
“We are also the only North African Arab team in the competition and we want to make absolutely sure we represent the country well and make them proud of us.”
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town, editing by Josh Reich and Mike Collett)