‘Nothing is impossible’ says Osama Hawsawi ahead of Saudi Arabia’s World Cup opener against Russia

Juan Antonio Pizzi and his skipper Osama Hawsawi were in relaxed mood in Moscow.
Updated 13 June 2018
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‘Nothing is impossible’ says Osama Hawsawi ahead of Saudi Arabia’s World Cup opener against Russia

  • Coach and caption in relaxed, confident mood ahead of Moscow opener.
  • Squad excited to play against hosts and get their campaign started.

MOSCOW: Ambitious, excited and intent on victory. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has the perfect plan to lead Saudi Arabia to three points in the opening game of the World Cup against hosts Russia this evening at Luzhniki Stadium: Capitalize on their opponent’s weaknesses, control their strengths, and enjoy the experience.
On the eve of Saudi Arabia’s first World Cup match since 2006, the Argentine said his inexperienced side are feeling confident as they prepare to face a Russia team under intense pressure to perform. Since the World Cup was first held in 1930, a host nation has never lost the opening match, but Pizzi’s team arrived in Moscow with one objective: Victory.
“I am extremely excited to play the opening match,” said Pizzi, who is coaching at the World Cup for the first time.
“There are very few opportunities in life to live this type of event. We have been the chosen ones. We have great enthusiasm and want to do our best, give our everything to try to satisfy and make Saudi citizens happy. I’m sure that will be the case. Our ambition is to beat Russia.”
After two months in which he has managed to keep his squad largely out of the limelight with training camps in southern Spain and rural Switzerland, Pizzi was yesterday called upon by FIFA to address the world’s media alongside captain Osama Hawsawi ahead of the much-anticipated curtain-raiser. 
Speaking in rapid Spanish, the 50-year-old described his football philosophy, discussed his plans to combat his opponent’s game-plan, and dismissed suggestions external pressure will impact the match. The team, he said, is focusing completely and absolutely on the first game and nothing else.
“My style is that of competing,” said Pizzi. “We want to compete for every single ball, tackle every situation on the pitch, and try to have a winning style. We want to be better physically, tactically, and in terms of technique. We want to be the best. I am in favor of being under the spotlight. That is what I have always tried to do as a manager and that is what I am trying to convey to my players.
“We are super-focused and believe that the only way we can achieve success is to really focus on each of the matches that we have to play.
“So, right now, the only thing on my mind is the match against Russia. For now, that is the most difficult game we are going to face at this World Cup. We know perfectly well how Russia is going to play against us. We will try to capitalize; to exploit their shortcomings and use all our tools to counteract their virtues, of which there are many.”
Hawsawi, the veteran center-back who has benefitted from Pizzi’s emphasis on fitness, said he and his teammates are living a dream. Before addressing the media, the 34-year-old Al-Hilal defender took a moment to savour the cauldron-like Luzhniki Stadium, taking selfies and videos from the pitch. 
 “Every player in the world wishes to play in the World Cup,” said Hawsawi, who will lead his country out in front of 81,000 fans this evening.
“We have to do our best and progressing to the next stage is not impossible.
“There are so many unpredictable things that can happen at a World Cup. We are focused now on the opening game and that will set the tone for the other matches. We are playing the hosts and are very ambitious. Like all the squads, we want to qualify for the finals if we can. Nothing is impossible.”


Al-Hilal arrive in the UK ahead of Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad

Updated 51 min 25 sec ago
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Al-Hilal arrive in the UK ahead of Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad

  • Riyadh giants all set for this weekend's Saudi Super Cup final against Jeddah rivals.
  • Omar Abdulrahman set to make his debut in the clash at QPR's Loftus Road ground.

LONDON: Al-Hilal have landed in the UK's second city Birmingham ahead of Saturday’s Super Cup clash against Al-Ittihad in London.
The Riyadh giants are set to face their Jeddah rivals at QPR’s Loftus Road ground in the fifth staging of the match which sees the Saudi Pro League champions face the King’s Cup winners. Saturday’s clash will be the third time the final will have been held in the British capital.

Al-Hilal players were excited before they departed Riyadh for the UK captial. 

Al-Hilal got their season off to a winning start with a 1-0 over Oman’s Al-Shahbab in the Arab Champions Cup on Sunday. New coach Jorge Jesus called the performance professional but told his players they need to go up a gear if they are to win on Saturday.
After the match the Portuguese coach said: “We can play better than this and we need to be more clinical in attack and take our chances.”
Al-Hilal will likely be helped in that aim by Omar Abdulrahman. The UAE star is set to make his debut for his boyhood club having signed on loan for a year from Al-Ain in an eye-watering $17 million deal.

Can new signing Omar Abdulrahman get his Al-Hilal career off to a winning start on Saturday?