US football chief thanks Saudi leadership for supporting North American World Cup bid

President of the United States Football Carlos Cordeiro, center, thanks the Saudi leadership for backing the North American bid. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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US football chief thanks Saudi leadership for supporting North American World Cup bid

  • The US, Mexico and Canada edged out to underdogs Morocco

JEDDAH: The head of US football thanked Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for supporting North America’s winning bid to host the World Cup in 2026.

Carlos Cordeiro, President of the US Soccer Federation, expressed gratitude to King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turki Al-Sheikh, head of the Kingdom’s sports authority, in backing the joint bid to host one of the world’s premier tournaments.

The US, Mexico and Canada edged out to underdogs Morocco in a vote of FIFA member nations in Moscow.

“I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty the King, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, and my good friend His Excellency Turki Al-Sheikh for your tremendous support of the United bid,” said Cordeiro.

“United States (is) working together with Canada and Mexico for the United bid, for your advice and your support. We were victorious today in Moscow we look forward to hosting the 2026 World Cup in North America and to receiving you and many of your fans and citizens in 2026,” Cordeiro added.

The joint North American bid defeated their north African rival by a margin of 69 votes, 134 to 65, to win the right to organise the first World Cup to be expanded to 48 teams.

The result at the FIFA Congress on the eve of the 2018 tournament means global football’s showpiece event will return to the North American continent for the first time since the United States hosted it in 1994.

Bid leader Cordeiro said his team was “humbled” by the result and predicted the tournament would put football “on a new and sustainable path for generations to come”.


'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 21 June 2018
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'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.