Bauza tells Saudi Arabia players to learn fast ahead of key Portugal clash

Edgardo Bauza has taken the Saudi football to western Europe for a 12-day training camp. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Bauza tells Saudi Arabia players to learn fast ahead of key Portugal clash

VISEU, Portugal: With just 215 days until the start of the FIFA World Cup, Edgardo Bauza will take charge of his first official Saudi Arabia match tonight against European champions Portugal, insisting his players must learn quick in the mountainous city of Viseu.
“Viseu” comes from the Portuguese word “vista”, meaning view, and it is appropriate given the Argentine coach hopes to finish the evening with a better vision of what work he has to do before boarding his flight from Riyadh to Russia next June. Having arrived at the Saudi helm only in September — after the squad had already qualified for next summer’s showpiece — he has overseen three unofficial games, against Jamaica, Ghana and, earlier this week, Latvia. Tonight’s glamor tie will be the first against another qualified side.
“Facing top teams like Portugal is part of our preparation program ahead of the World Cup,” said Bauza, who has taken Saudi to western Europe for a 12-day training camp. “This is the second of three games here and is very important. We are in an important phase because we are only starting to work with the squad. Now the team is getting used to our working methods and I am getting to know them better.
“Portugal has qualified for the World Cup and we know they have good players that will give us a hard game. Against us, they will likely play many that we have not seen playing too much at this level before, but it is very important to show respect to all. For us, it will be a very difficult game and we must learn quickly how to play against a team of this high standard.”
Bauza’s counterpart Fernando Santos is expected to give debuts to a number of young players after naming an inexperienced squad, including the uncapped Marcos Lopes of Monaco and Real Sociedad’s Kévin Rodrigues. But, highlighting Renato Sanchez, Santos stressed his youthful selection does not belittle the level of the opposition, nor the importance of the match.
“Age is not important,” he said. “Renato was 18 years old when he went to the Euros. Others, like Raphael Guerreiro, were very young. It is an open team without ages. What matters is the individual or collective quality, that is what makes them come or not. Of course, these 23 players will not all be in the World Cup squad, but some will be, like others who did not come and can be. There is only one player who is the exception.”
That exception will not feature tonight. Cristiano Ronaldo is absent, not called upon by Santos who prefers to run his eye over other options. Saudi, however, are not anticipating an easier ride.
“Ronaldo is obviously a very important player for any team, but naturally I still expect a difficult match,” Bauza said. “Portugal has a deep squad and are able to fill the gaps of players that will not be present. We want to first play a good game against Portugal and then again against Bulgaria [on Monday]. The objective is to be ready for the World Cup, but we have time to work.”


Saudi Arabia powerhouse Al-Ahli sign international striker

Updated 19 July 2018
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Saudi Arabia powerhouse Al-Ahli sign international striker

  • 6ft 3in forward Djaniny Tavares will play for the Jeddah giants this season
  • Cape Verde international set to partner Omar Al-Somah in new-look strikeforce

LONDON: Al-Ahli have taken another positive step towards wrestling the title away from Al-Hilal by adding to their already prolific strike force.
The Jeddah side have signed Cape Verde international striker Djaniny Tavares on a four-year deal and he is set to spearhead an attacking unit that scored 59 times in the league last season, 12 more than anyone else. 
Tavares, 27, is 6ft 3in and is likely to be used as a target man, making him the perfect foil for sharpshooter Omar Al-Somah, who has been the league’s top-scorer in three of the past four seasons.
Somah scored 11 times in the league last season — one less than Al-Fayha’s Ronnie Fernández who led the league scoring charts —  while Leonardo, with ten, and Giannis Fetfatzidis, who got nine, were not far behind for Al-Ahli, but the latter two have been released as part of a cull of the club’s foreign players, so Tavares has been recruited with a view to replacing their goal threat.


Tavares is not a household name — he has spent most of his career playing for some of the lesser known clubs in Portugal — but he has spent the last four years in Mexico, scoring 40 goals in 124 games for Santos Laguna. He has been capped 24 times by his country, scoring four goals and will join up with his new Al-Ahli teammates in Austria for their pre-season training camp.
Tavares is the club’s fifth summer signing, following on from the capture of Spaniard’s Jose Manuel Jurado and Alexis Ruano, Egyptian international Abdallah El-Said and Nouh Al-Mousa. Al-Somah, Mohamed Al-Fateel and Motaz Hawsawi have signed new contracts while Pablo Guede is the new coach.

Al-Ahli missed out on the title by a single point last season and are keen to kick on and land the title for the first time since 2016.
Al-Ahli begin the competitive season on Aug. 7 with an Arab Club Champions Cup game against Muharraq before kicking off the Saudi Pro League season on Aug. 30 with a home game against Al-Batin