Saudi Arabia drawn in group with Iran and North Korea at Asian Games

Saad Al-Shehr will lead Saudi Arabia at the Asian Games. (AFP)
Updated 07 July 2018
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Saudi Arabia drawn in group with Iran and North Korea at Asian Games

  • Myanmar make up the quartet in Group F
  • Coach Saad Al-Shehri has named a 28-man squad

Saudi Arabia's U-23 squad will meet the 2014 silver medalists after the groups were drawn for the Asian Games next month.
The young Green Falcons have been placed in Group F along with North Korea, who lost 1-0 in extra time to South Korea four years ago, Iran and Myanmar.
The group winners and runners-up as well as four best teams in third place in the groups will qualify for the knockout round of the tournament which runs in Indonesia from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2.
Saudi Arabia will play Iran on Aug. 15, Myanmar two days later and then the crunch clash against North Korea on Aug. 21. The final is at the Pakansari Stadium on Sept. 1.
Saudi Arabia reached the quarterfinal four years ago, losing 3-0 to Iraq but they were runners-up in 1986 and finished third in 1982.
Coach Saad Al-Shehri will be hoping his side perform better than they did at December's Gulf Cup where they failed to get out of the group. He will prepare his players by taking them to the Czech Republic for a training camp between July 9 and July 28.

He named the following squad:

Mohamed al-Rabihi
Mohamed al-Bassas
Abdullah Hassoun
AbdulBasit Hindi
Faisal Darisi
Ali Al-Asmari
Yussof Al-Harbi
AbdulRahman Al-Gharib
Ayman Al-Khlif
Abdullah Majrishi
Mansoor al-Mawled
Nawwaf Abu Amer
Saad al-Slouli
Mohamed al-Zubaidi
Saleh Al-Wahaymed
Moutaeb Al-Hamad
AbdulRahman Al-Dosary
Anas Zubani
Fahd Al-Roushaydi
Nayef Kariri
Amin Bukhari
Aoun Slouli
Hassan Abu Sharara
Haroun Kamara
Nasser Al-Omran
Abdullah Al-Yussof
Abdulilah Al-Omari
Abdulkoudous Attiyah

ASIAN GAMES DRAW

Group A
Indonesia
Hong Kong
Laos
Chinese Taipei

Group B
Thailand
Uzbekistan
Bangladesh
Qatar

Group C
Iraq
China PR
Timor-Leste
Syria

Group D
Japan
Vietnam
Pakistan
Nepal

Group E
South Korea
Kyrgyzstan
Malaysia
Bahrain

Group F
North Korea
Saudi Arabia
Iran
Myanmar


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”