Saudi Arabia feeling confident after defeat to Germany

Saudi Arabia may have been second best against Germany but they give a good account of themselves ahead of the World Cup.
Updated 09 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia feeling confident after defeat to Germany

  • Green Falcons early shock world champions in Leverkusen.
  • Players in bullish mood ahead of World Cup opener against Russia.

Saudi Arabia may have lost to Germany on Friday night but Juan Antonio Pizzi said the Green Falcons head to the World Cup full of confidence.
The 2-1 defeat went the way of the pre-match predictions — Germany at home were never likely to lose — but the performance of Pizzi’s side hinted at a new-found maturity and that the new coach’s ideas were finally being taken on board by the players.
Germany may have brought their five-game losing streak to an end but had to rely on Mats Hummels denying Mohammad Al-Sahlawi an injury-time equalizer — Timo Werner and a Omar Hawsawi own goal gave the hosts the lead they never relinquished, although a Taisir Al-Jassim stoke late on gave the world champions a nervy last six minutes.
Germany started at an electrifying pace and could have been three up after 20 minutes. But having ridden their luck Saudi Arabia settled into the match and could have snatched a last-minute goal.
Pizzi was doubtless the happier of the two managers and after the match his contentment was obvious to pick up. Just four days out from the side’s opening clash against Russia the Argentine coach is certain his team is exactly where they need to be.
“It was a very good match and were very happy to compete one of the greatest teams in the world,” Pizzi said.
“The level of our game is getting better, there was a great improvement and we had good control of the game for long period of time.
“There were moments in the match we can look back on and say we did well, we created chances. We created opportunities to score more than one goal.”
The upbeat nature of Pizzi might seem weird considering the Green Falcons head into the tournament on the back of three defeats. Losses to Italy (2-1) and Peru (3-0) before the Germany clash, however, despite the scorelines, hinted at a team on the rise and getting better with every match.
There is still little doubt that Saudi Arabia face a tough task in Russia, despite it being one of the easier groups — as well as the hosts the Green Falcons face Uruguay and Egypt — making the knockout stages will still represent a great success.
But having seen his side improve with every match during the pre-tournament friendlies, Pizzi is sure they can do well.
“Regardless of the past three defeats I still have very high hopes and confidence we’ll do well,” he said.
“Hopefully this performance sets us up for success in Russia.”
The result arguably does more for Saudi Arabia’s hopes than Germany, who, having gone into the match winless in five matches, left the pitch with still more questions than answers.
“We squandered many chances and allowed many chances today. We were even lucky in the end,” Germany coach Joachim Low said.
He remained optimistic, however.
“I’m not worried because I know that we’re going to keep improving. We’ll be ready when (the World Cup) starts,” Low said. next week.”


A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

Updated 20 March 2019
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A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.

FIND THOSE SCORING BOOTS

For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.

PUT ON A SHOW

Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.

SET THE TONE

As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.