Japan’s Kashiwa through to AFC knock-outs

Updated 24 April 2013
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Japan’s Kashiwa through to AFC knock-outs

SINGAPORE: Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol grabbed their place in the AFC Champions League last 16 yesterday, as Michael McGlinchey lifted Australian hopes with a late winner for Central Coast Mariners against Suwon Bluewings.
A 1-1 draw with China’s Guizhou Renhe was enough for Group H table-toppers Kashiwa, who sealed their progression with a solitary point after Tatsuya Masushima’s second half strike was canceled out by Li Kai.
The Emperor’s Cup-holders become just the third team to reach next month’s knock-out phase in what is a frantic finish to the group stage with 27 clubs still in the running in the penultimate week.
Behind them Australia’s Mariners, the newly crowned A-League champions, climbed to second in Group H and dashed Suwon’s hopes after their 1-0 away win which was sealed in the 80th minute and against the run of play. Substitute McGlinchey ran onto a ball over the top of the defense and bounced in his shot off goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong, as Suwon were left to rue their inability to capitalize on large amounts of possession.
The hosts had gone close through Stevica Ristikj, whose close-range half-volley was saved in the first half, and North Korean striker Jong Tae-Se, who grazed a stanchion with a sizzling effort after the break.
In Kashiwa, proceedings got off to a somber start with a minute’s silence for the victims of this week’s deadly earthquake in Sichuan, which neighbors Guizhou province.
After play got under way, Masushima’s shot from a rebounding free kick put the hosts ahead on 50 minutes. But Guizhou defender Li equalized with five minutes left to put his team third, two points behind the Mariners, with one game left.
“It was tough in the first half, because we made many mistakes,” said Kashiwa’s Brazilian coach, Nelsinho. “God gave us today’s result. We also received a gift that we got past the group round.” Elsewhere Beijing Guoan kept their hopes alive in Group G with a 2-0 win over Pohang Steelers, courtesy of second-half goals from Colombian striker Joffre Guerron and former Bundesliga star Shao Jiayi.
In the same group, top team Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan failed to take their place in next month’s knock-outs when they were held to a drab 0-0 draw by already eliminated Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Among Tuesday’s West Asian games, Al Gharafa can lose to Al Ahli and still advance, as long as Sepahan fail to beat Al Nasr.

And in Group D, Esteghlal, Al Ain and Al Hilal are all capable of sealing progression before next week’s final games.
The top two teams from eight groups of four reach next month’s knock-out round, played over two legs from May 14.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”