Saudi Arabia U23 coach wants to see fight in AFC Iraq clash

Saudi Arabia coach Daniel Teglia wants to see the same fight and determination shown against Jordan in the Iraq game on Saturday. (Courtesy of AFC.com)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Saudi Arabia U23 coach wants to see fight in AFC Iraq clash

LONDON: Saudi Arabia coach Daniel Teglia has told his players to replicate the grit and determination they showed against Jordan and victory will be theirs when they face Iraq on Saturday.
The U-23 side fought back from two goals down in their first Group C game of the AFC Championship to snatch a 2-2 draw, thanks to a brace of goals in the dying minutes of the clash.
And Teglia is confident that the young Green Falcons can ensure victory against Iraq in China if they show the same spirit as they did on Wednesday.
“Our group is a tough group,” he said. “The teams work well, they have an outstanding collective and physically they are so strong.
“We will try to play football our way, to maintain the ball on the ground and to infiltrate the space. I saw Iraq’s game against Malaysia and they’re a strong team and only the team who will impose his playing style on the game will win.
“As always in the first match, it leaves a stamp of identity on the tournament and we showed that the Saudi team have great heart and identity, that we’ll never surrender and play with a lot of personality.”
Saudi Arabia take on an Iraqi side that started the campaign with a comfortable 4-1 win over Malaysia. The Iraqis go into the clash as slight favorites. But despite their emphatic victory on Wednesday coach Abdulghani Shahad is taking nothing for granted.
“In each match we will play our own system and the important thing is that we have three points and we have some players in this system who have grown together,” he said. “In general, we achieved the most important thing from the first game and now we are going to work out our tactics for the game against Saudi Arabia.
“We are thinking step-by-step and this group is not easy. It’s difficult and it’s open for all the teams.”
RULE CHANGE
Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has decided to increase the number of foreign players in the Saudi Professional League to seven per team and up the number of players on the bench to nine. 
The new ruling allows for each Saudi club to field six foreign players in their starting line-up and one foreigner on the subs bench. 
Due to the change in the rules the SAFF also announced the postponement of the 18th round of the league starting from Mar. 5 to Mar. 17 to allow for clubs to register new foreign professionals.


World Cup boost for Egypt as Mohamed Salah ‘is ready to play against Russia’

Updated 1 min 9 sec ago
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World Cup boost for Egypt as Mohamed Salah ‘is ready to play against Russia’

  • Liverpool star took part in full training
  • Egypt team manager says Salah is poised to make his World Cup bow

ST. PETERSBURG: Mohamed Salah is a looming obstacle as Russia attempt to virtually secure their place in the knockout stages of the World Cup in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
Fears that poor performances from the home side could dampen enthusiasm in the host nation were blown away by a 5-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia in the opening game.
The seven-time African champions will pose a much tougher task, but a lot will depend upon Salah's fitness.
Liverpool star Salah has not featured since leaving the field in tears early in the Champions League final just over three weeks ago after landing heavily on his left shoulder and had to watch from the bench as Egypt lost 1-0 to Uruguay in their opening game.
Salah has been declared 100 percent fit by Egypt's team doctor and his agent, leaving little doubt he will be thrown back into action in the Pharaohs' hour of need.
However, as he returned to training on Saturday, Salah was seen by AFP reporters at Egypt's training camp in Grozny needing help from teammates to lift a training top over his head.
"Salah participated in training with his teammates for the entire session and he is ready to play against Russia according to technical staff," Egypt's team manager Ihab Leheta told FIFA.com.
Egypt coach Hector Cuper's decision not to risk Salah against Uruguay may have been influenced by the fact his side held out for 89 minutes before conceding to Jose Gimenez, by which time the Argentine had made all three of his substitutions.
"Russia's game is fateful and difficult because of our defeat against Uruguay," said Leheta. "Winning is our only choice".
If fully fit, the sight of Salah, who scored 44 goals in a remarkable debut season at Liverpool, will strike fear into the Russians.
Concerns Russia could become just the second host nation to bow out of the World Cup at the group stage after a seven-game winless run ahead of the tournament have been alleviated by a perfect start.
With Uruguay favourites to top the group, though, Russia are keen not to have to rely on getting something from their final group game against the two-time former world champions.
"The second game will be our most important one in the group stage," said Russia's deputy prime minister and former football federation president Vitaly Mutko after attending Russia's training session on Sunday.
A close ally of President Vladimir Putin, Mutko oversaw preparations for the tournament at a cost of more than $13 billion.
"In the first match, everyone saw how much the players cared. If we play up to our level, I don't see any problems."
Denis Cheryshev was Russia's hero against Saudi Arabia as he came off the bench to score twice.
And the Villarreal winger accepted it will be a more "interesting" clash if Salah is fit.
"If he's not there, does that mean our task becomes easy? Not at all," he told FIFA.com "If he plays, it will be hard but more interesting. He's one of the best and you always want to compete with the best and win."
Russia will be without one of their key players, with Alan Dzagoev expected to miss the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury.