Saudi Arabia coach describes World Cup defeat as a ‘shameful situation’

Juan Antonio Pizzi presided over a 5-0 defeat to Russia that leaves Saudi Arabia with a mountain to climb. (Reuters)
Updated 15 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia coach describes World Cup defeat as a ‘shameful situation’

  • Green Falcons thrashed 5-0 by Russia in opening game
  • 'We did not play as we had planned to'

LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi was at a loss to explain why his side fluffed their lines on their big opening night, insisting he did not see that result or performance coming after such an encouraging buildup to the tournament.
The Green Falcons were full of confidence heading into the tournament, with key midfielder Abdullah Otayf even boldly claiming the team had their sights set on reaching the last eight. But they will have to drastically recalibrate their expectations now after Russia thrashed them 5-0 in Moscow. Pizzi was asked if the occasion perhaps got to his side.
“I am not sure if it is because it was the first game against the hosts it had an impact on the result or not, but for sure we were not doing what we wanted to do,” he said. “The opposition really didn’t have to make a huge effort to win by a landslide. This is something that is not very common in these sorts of games.
“That’s what happened and we have to recover and overcome this situation; this shameful situation. And then thinking about the next match.”
Pizzi can console him with the fact that his side enjoyed 60 percent of possession, but they did nothing with it and did not register a single attempt on goal. Russia, on the other hand, were far more penetrative and were ruthless, scoring five times from their seven shots on target.
“I already said we did not play as we had planned to,” said Pizzi. “But on the other hand we have seen that certain things are better. Of course we can and will improve. But it takes time. We have to plan for next game, be positive and try to recover.”
The Green Falcons could certainly not use a lack of preparation time as an excuse. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) arranged five training camps and nine friendlies. Russia, on the other hand, only had five warm-up games.
“I believe that we have arrived here well prepared,” said Pizzi. “We have been preparing for this and my players have shown they are ready to play a World Cup. I can only say what I have said before: This game cannot be the reference. It’s true we have not done what we came here to do. We have not done what we have done in previous matches that gave us good results.”
Inevitably, Pizzi was asked about his future, particularly in light of the fact that SAFF sacked Carlos Alberto Parreira midway through the 1998 tournament.
“That is a very pertinent question and a great one given how I feel right now,” said Pizzi who only took over in November. “Listen, I have my own philosophy and try to do things the best I can and try to convey it the best I can. Everything I do, I do giving my all. There are certain situations I cannot control — I cannot control that. I have trust in my players and fully trust that we will have a better performance during the next game.”


Finch's century helps fire Australia to eight-wicket win over Pakistan

Updated 23 March 2019
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Finch's century helps fire Australia to eight-wicket win over Pakistan

SHARJAH: Aaron Finch's fine century drove Australia to a convincing eight-wicket win over a new-look Pakistan in the first one-day international on Friday.
The Austraian skipper scored 116 off 135 balls for his 12th one-day international century that helped his team overhaul the 281-run target in 49 overs on a flat Sharjah stadium pitch.
The win gives Australia the lead in the five-match series and has come on the back of their 3-2 series win in India earlier this month.
Finch's match-winning knock overshadowed Haris Sohail's maiden one-day hundred (101 not out) which helped Pakistan to 280-5 in their 50 overs.
The 32-year-old smashed Shoaib Malik for a huge six towards deep mid-wicket to complete his century -- his first since June last year against England at Chester-Le-Street -- off 120 balls.
Finch, who knocked four sixes and eight boundaries, added an innings-building 172 runs for the second wicket with Shaun Marsh who scored an unbeaten 91 off 102 balls with four boundaries and two sixes.
With 46 needed Finch became Mohammad Abbas's maiden wicket but Peter Handscomb hit 30 not out to help Marsh cross the line.
Finch and Marsh came together after opener Usman Khawaja fell for 24 to medium pacer Faheem Ashraf, the only other success Pakistan's new-look bowling attack could achieve.
Pakistan rested six of their key players including regular skipper Sarfraz Ahmed in order to keep them fresh for the World Cup starting in UK from May 30.
But the young and inexperienced Pakistan led by Malik proved no match for Australia, who are on a roll after their win in India earlier this month.
Left-hander Sohail, who reached 1,000 runs in his 27th one-day international when on 40, anchored Pakistan's innings, adding 98 for the third wicket with Umar Akmal who made a 50-ball 48 in his first international match for two years.
Sohail took a single to complete his hundred in the last over, finishing with six boundaries and a six.
Pakistan had handed one-day debuts to opener Shan Masood and Abbas -- who have played 15 and 14 Tests respectively.
Masood put on 35 in an opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq (17) before off-spinner Nathan Lyon dismissed Imam in the seventh over, caught and bowled.
Masood, who hit five boundaries in his 62-ball 40, was then bowled by paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile who finished with 1-38 in his 10 overs.
Umar smashed three sixes in one Jhye Richardson over but fell one short of his half century.
Malik fell for 11 and Ashraf and Imad Wasim scored 28 each.
Wasim hit four boundaries and a six during his 13-ball unbeaten knock, helping Pakistan to 55 runs in the last five overs.
Sunday's second ODI is also being played in Sharjah, with the third in Abu Dhabi (March 27) and the last two in Dubai (March 29 and 31).