Saudi Arabia's last five World Cup matches

Yasser Al-Kahtani celebrates his goal against Tunisia in 2006. (Getty)
Updated 14 June 2018

Saudi Arabia's last five World Cup matches

  • Green Falcons kick off the tournament today against Russia
  • They are bidding for only their third ever win at the finals

So the big day has arrived as Saudi Arabia get ready to strut their stuff in front of the the glob when they get the World Cup under way against Russia today. Here is how the Green Falcons fared in their past six matches at the tournament.

World Cup 2006 — drew with Tunisia 2-2:

Got their tournament off to a good start with goals from Yasser Al-Qahtani and Sami Al-Jaber grabbing a point in Munich. Al-Jaber, the Al-Hilal legend, scored two minutes after coming on as a substitute. The draw may have felt like a loss, though, as they thought they had all three points in the bag until Radhi Jaïdi struck in injury time for Tunisia. 

World Cup 2006 — lost to Ukraine 4-0:

The good start against Tunisia was undone with this big defeat to the eastern Europeans. This was a good Ukraine side, though, with Andriy Shevchenko and Sergei Rebrov both getting on the scoresheet.

World Cup 2006 — lost to Spain 1-0:

The Green Falcons exited the competition with another defeat, but held their heads high after having a good go against a Spain side featuring Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta and Raul. Juanito won the tie for Spain with a 36th-minute goal. 

World Cup 2002 — lost to Germany 8-0:

The side’s heaviest defat at the tournament was delivered by a very good side containing Michael Ballack and Miroslav Klose. Klose claimed a hat-trick and ended the tournament as the Golden Boot winner. Germany ended up finishing in third place.

World Cup 2002 — Lost to Cameroon 1-0:

A Samuel Eto’o strike after 66 minutes was enough to get the Africans the win in a tightly-fought clash. Cameron fielded a strong side with Geremi, Rigobert Song, Lauren and the late Marc Vivien Foe.

World Cup 2002 — Lost to Ireland 3-0:

Already out of the tournament the Green Falcons put up little resistance to a Robbie Keane-inspired Ireland. Keane gave Ireland the perfect start with a goal after seven minutes and then Gary Breen (61) and Damien Duff (87) finished things off. 

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

Updated 21 June 2018

'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.