QPR hoping for 'very popular' Saudi Super Cup game at Loftus Road

Al-Hilal celebrate winning the Saudi Super Cup at Loftus Road stadium in 2015. (AFP)
Updated 06 August 2018
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QPR hoping for 'very popular' Saudi Super Cup game at Loftus Road

  • London club to host showpiece game on Aug. 18
  • 'We are ideally located for Saudi nationals who are in London for the month of August'

LONDON: English football club Queens Park Rangers hope staging the Saudi Super Cup match will deepen ties with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF).
The club’s Loftus Road ground will host the match between Al-Hilal, the winners of the Saudi Pro League, and Al-Ittihad, the winners of the King’s Cup, on Aug. 18. It is the second time in four years the match will be staged at the stadium in West London, a result of a tie-up with sports marketing agency Sela Sport.
“We are definitely keen to develop our working relationship with Sela Sport and SAFF,” said Euan Inglis, QPR’s Commercial Director. “We have worked with Sela Sport previously, so we have built a good relationship.”
Sela Sport helped export the fixture to Loftus Road in 2015 and then to Craven Cottage in Fulham in 2016. It is now back in Shepherd’s Bush.
“Sela Sport make the decision on stadium venues ... with Loftus Road Stadium being located in West London, we are ideally located for Saudi nationals who are in London for the month of August,” said Inglis. “The event has been very popular previously and ticket sales are currently going very well. There is a mix of Saudi nationals visiting London during August and who are based in London full time. Providing a good venue and experience for our guests from Saudi Arabia is our only objective.”
The match will be the first competitive fixture for Al-Hilal under their new coach Jorge Jesus. He spent most of last month getting to know his players during a training camp in Austria and integrating new signings Alberto Botia and Andre Carrillo. The Portuguese coach has also been boosted by the return of Carlos Eduardo, the Brazilian who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury. The playmaker is now fully fit and was on target in a couple of the pre-season friendlies.
One man who will know all about Eduardo is former Al-Hilal coach Ramon Diaz. Sacked by the champions in February, he is now in charge of Al-Ittihad and he will be keen to put on a good show in the game against his former employers.
Diaz has been busy in the transfer market, signing Aleksandar Pesic, a Serbian international striker, and Australia World Cup defender Matthew Jurman. Saudi Arabia international Fahad Al-Muwallad is also back after spending the second half of last season on loan in Spain.
Al-Ittihad are keen to arrest a slide down the Saudi Pro League after finishing ninth last season.


Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

Updated 18 January 2019
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Juan Antonio Pizzi tells Saudi Arabia to improve or forget about beating Japan

  • Green Falcons face tough route to final starting with Japan in the second round on Monday.
  • Coach warns players they have no chance of ultimate glory unless they go up a gear in the UAE.

LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi has told his Green Falcons they will have to learn the lessons of their defeat to Qatar if they are to have a chance of beating Japan in the second round.
Pizzi’s players went into the Group E clash already assured of a place in the knockout stages, having beaten North Korea and Lebanon in their first two marches. But the prospect of topping the pool and avoiding four-time champions Japan was still motivation enough to avoid temptation to treat the Qatar match as a dead rubber.
In a lackluster performance — a marked contrast to the energy and creativity of their first two matches — the Green Falcons failed to impose themselves in the game and paid the price when two Almoez Ali goals gave the win and points to Qatar.
That left Pizzi annoyed, warning his players they cannot afford to make the same mistakes against Japan.
“We tried to impose our style of play on Qatar, but our finishing and our ability to make the right decisions at crucial moments were not there tonight,” Pizzi said.
“We were good in the first 30 minutes, but an individual error for the first goal and then another mistake from a set-piece saw us concede twice.
“I am just starting to think of the game versus Japan. As I have stated before, I respect all of the teams that are here and do not feel either superior or inferior to anyone.
“It is now important for us to learn from the mistakes we made against Qatar and perform better when we play Japan.”
The first rule of any tournament is to get through to the knockout stages. That Saudi Arabia have managed that, having failed in the 2011 and 2015 editions, is a success. Add to that the fact they qualified for their first World Cup in 12 years last year, and it is clear that Pizzi’s team is still one on the up.
If there is a positive to take out of the Qatar defeat it is that the side’s first poor performance in the tournament came in a group match having already made it through, rather than in a winner-takes-all encounter such as the one they face against the Blue Samurai in Sharjah on Monday.
“We will bounce back. I don’t feel that we are not as good as (Japan) in any way,” Pizzi said.