No home Tests holding Pakistan back, says Misbah

Updated 21 January 2013
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No home Tests holding Pakistan back, says Misbah

JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan are losing ground on Test rivals because they cannot host international teams owing to security concerns and accordingly play fewer test matches, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said yesterday.
As his team prepared to take on the world’s top-ranked test team South Africa in the three-test series starting in Johannesburg on Feb. 1, Misbah said Pakistan were at a disadvantage because of the “limitations.”
“As a team it is very difficult when you not playing a format on a regular basis. You really have to work hard. But we have to adjust, you could say it is a limitation for us but we are professionals, we have to do well,” he told a news conference.
“We don’t have home series and when you aren’t playing at home then you miss a lot of cricket and you play only about five or six tests a year when other teams are playing 15 or 16 Tests a year. It really does affect your team.” Pakistan have not hosted a test-playing team since armed militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding six Sri Lankan players.
Their ‘home’ matches since then have been held at neutral venues, mostly in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, while Pakistan have not played a Test series anywhere since July last year.
Misbah said that the success of the two-match series between a World XI and a Pakistani All Star team in October last year showed that Pakistan could safely host international matches.
“Pakistan is such a big cricketing nation and the world has to think about bringing international cricket back (to Pakistan).
“The T20 tournament in Pakistan saw full stadiums for every match. There were no (security) concerns. The people should have international cricket,” he said.
Misbah’s words were echoed by Pakistan team manager Naveed Akram Cheema who said that the situation in Pakistan was a lot safer than outsiders perceived.
“Our people in Pakistan are being deprived of international cricket. There is a difference between perception and reality. People don’t come (to Pakistan) on the pretext of security concerns. But I can tell you that it is as safe as any country in the world,” he said.
Bangladesh were due to tour Pakistan this month but it was postponed for security reasons.

Irish confirms
ODI dates
Ireland will play two one-day internationals at home to Pakistan in May, Cricket Ireland said yesterday.
Pakistan will use the matches at yet to be specified venues on May 23 and May 26 as preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy starting on June 6.
“It’s fantastic news for Irish cricket, and we’re grateful to both ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board for making the series possible,” said Ireland coach Phil Simmons.
“Pakistan are a formidable one-day side and it’s a great way of measuring where we are as a team. We’ve had some wonderful tussles with them in the past, and for many, Irish cricket was born the day we beat them in the 2007 World Cup. That win grabbed the attention of the world and we haven’t looked back since.” British media quoted Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore as saying: “We are eagerly awaiting our matches against the Irish team.

“Irish cricket has been improving consistently and we will be looking forward to some competitive games ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy.”


‘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.”