Bauza fired as Saudi national football team coach

Saudi Arabia's national football team coach Edgardo Bauza in action during the International Friendly between Portugal and Saudi Arabia in Viseu, Portugal, on November 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Rafael Marchante)
Updated 23 November 2017

Bauza fired as Saudi national football team coach

LONDON: The Saudi Arabia Football Federation will today step up the search for a coach to lead them at this summer’s World Cup after they announced they had terminated the contract of Edgardo Bauza after just 69 days in charge.
There had been speculation last week that Bauza had been relieved of his duties following the underwhelming tour of Western Europe, but the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) told Arab News last Wednesday that the Argentine had not lost his job. It proved a brief stay of execution as, a week later, the SAFF yesterday announced on its Twitter feed that Bauza has indeed been given his marching orders after just two official matches in charge, against Portugal and Bulgaria.
“The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has terminated its contract with the manager and coach of the Saudi Arabia national team, Edgardo Bauza, on Wednesday,” read a statement. “This came after SAFF conducted a comprehensive technical evaluation of the last phase, during which Bauza was in charge of the national team and played five friendlies.”
Bauza oversaw wins against Jamaica and Latvia but presided over defeats to Ghana, Portugal and Bulgaria during his 69-day tenure.
Adel Izzat, president of the SAFF, explained that the decision to terminate Bauza’s contract was an upshot of “a thorough and comprehensive technical study of his performance and work, including the team’s two training camps and five friendlies.”
“The decision was made in the national team’s best interest, and is a reflection of our hopes for its upcoming participation,” he said.
The warning signs for Bauza were there when Turki Al-AlShaikh, the Chairman of the General Sport Authority, tweeted his dissatisfaction at the performances during the trip to Portugal, a training camp that yielded two defeats and just two goals in 270 minutes of football. “There is no coherence between players (no technical identity)... results are not good,” tweeted Al-AlShaikh. “Bauza is under the microscope.”
The feeling from the 12-day training get-together in Portugal was that the Spanish-speaking Bauza struggled to get his tactical messages across to his players and that the team looked particularly toothless in attack, especially against Portugal and Bulgaria, who are exactly the caliber of opposition Saudi Arabia are likely to be pitched against in next Friday’s draw for Russia 2018. Discipline was also something of a problem: Mansour Al-Harbi was sent off against Bulgaria while other players walked a disciplinary tightrope.
The SAAF clearly felt Bauza was, on reflection, not the right man to lead them at their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals and decided to act now to give the new man six months to prepare the team. They did something similar in 2006 when Gabriel Calderon, another Argentine, was fired in the lead-up to the World Cup in Germany.
This latest decision leaves the Federation searching for their fifth manager in as many years and the 20th in the past 18. There are, however, likely to be no shortage of applicants for the position, and the SAFF hinted yesterday that a replacement has already been lined up. Saudi Arabian legend Sami Al-Jaber and Al-Hilal coach Ramon Diaz have been strongly linked to succeed Bauza.
“SAFF announced that it is currently working on concluding a contract with a replacement coach, who will meet SAFF’s aspirations for the current phase, during which the national team is preparing for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia,” added the statement.

BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa crowned champion at Saudi Arabia's Ad Diriyah E-Prix

Updated 31 min 59 sec ago

BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa crowned champion at Saudi Arabia's Ad Diriyah E-Prix

  • The Portuguese driver held on for victory ahead of Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Jerome d’Ambrosio in the Mahindra car
  • Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi had the best start on the grid

AD DIRIYAH, Riyadh: Antonio Felix da Costa praised his BMW garage but said there is still a lot of work for him and the team to do in this year’s Formula E season after winning the inaugural Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday.

Da Costa was on pole from the beginning of the race and led away from the line, despite lining up at the front of the grid pointing toward the outside wall at a dusty and overcast Ad Diriyah circuit.

The Portuguese driver held on for victory ahead of Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Jerome d’Ambrosio in the Mahindra car.

Da Costa told Arab News that the new “cooler and futuristic” Gen 2 car gives drivers more power, stability and grip, and that there was “a lot to take in” during the race.

“It is a new car, a new track, a new way of racing, (with) ‘Attack Mode’, and I got the ‘Fan Boost’ for the first time, so there were a lot of things to do and as a team and we executed so well, so I think that is why we won today because we were not the quickest car but we just had a perfect race.

“It is amazing, it’s been really tough and long months of work, but I am really happy with that,” da Costa added.

“We definitely have some work to do as the two Techeetah cars were really fast, and even with (Vergne’s) drive through penalty, he was right there at the end.

“But it’s a good start and we’ll keep working on that and try to keep it going,” he added.

When asked about BMW being involved in Formula E as a factory team for the first time, da Costa said: “It hasn’t been easy the last two years, but as I said it has been a lot work between Indianapolis with Andretti and Munich with BMW, it is great to see and I am so happy for everyone back in Munich.”

Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi had the best start on the grid after he blasted by Jose Maria Lopez around the outside of the first corner from third place.

The front four pulled away from the rest of the pack, before Vergne — who started the race in fifth — passed Lopez on lap one of what would become a 33-lap race, with his teammate Andre Lotterer also getting past the Geox Dragon driver.

As da Costa consolidated his lead, Vergne was closing in on Buemi, eventually passing him in a great move around the outside on lap nine. The Frenchman then set about reeling in da Costa, with the Portuguese offering fierce resistance.

Vergne was then forced to serve drive-through penalties – just after he had used his first “attack mode” – for going exceeding the permitted power while using his “re-gen,” which put paid to him getting a victory.

Reigning champion Vergne, while impressed with the venue, was philosophical after the race.

“I was really hungry for a victory today, but the qualifying in the morning did not go as planned.

“Unfortunately, it was a step down from where I wanted to be, I wanted to win this one. 

“I had a fantastic car, it was incredibly fast, but a big congratulations to the BMW guys and Antonio, it was a well-deserved victory.

“What I will take as a positive from this weekend is that we have a strong team and a very strong car and I am very motivated.

“Going forward, we just need to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes that cost us the win today, but it’s a very encouraging first race and I’m looking forward to Marrakech now.”

On his drive through penalty, he said: “Yes, I had quite a few overtakes on the outside, on the inside, but it was a fun race, I honestly had a lot of fun. 

“I’m content with P2 today, and hoping to keep this package (on the car) and hopefully get some victories.”
Meanwhile, third-placed d’Ambrosio was delighted with his finish to the race.

“I am super happy, it was a great first race with Mahindra and a great start to the championship, I am lucky to be part of such a great team with some great people.

“I have come from two difficult years, so it’s great to start this new relationship with the team in this way. We worked very hard in the past few months to be ready, I think we were very fast but at the end of the race I didn’t have the confidence in the braking.

“But it makes a great to start to the season, with the podium and banking the points, and we’ll see what happens now.”

When asked about the new “attack mode” in Formula E, he said: “It is great, I actually wasn’t supposed to use it at that point of the race (when I did), but I had a good feeling and I saw Techeetah use it and start to build a gap, so I went for it and when the safety car came in I used it again.”