Brazil to play Green Falcons as Saudi Arabia host Neymar and Co.

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Neymar and his Brazil teammates will head to Riyadh in October to face Saudi Arabia and then play fierce rivals Argentina in Jeddah. (AFP)
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Turki Al-Sheikh, the president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, with the Saudi Arabia players. (SPA)
Updated 08 September 2018

Brazil to play Green Falcons as Saudi Arabia host Neymar and Co.

  • During the next international window, the Green Falcons will face Brazil in Riyadh on October 12
  • Match is part of a four-team series being hosted in the Kingdom, which also includes Argentina

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia hosting Argentina and Brazil in a four-nation tournament in October has been hailed as the best possible preparation for for the 2019 Asian Cup in January for the Green Falcons.
During the next international window, the Green Falcons will face Brazil in Riyadh on October 12, while local fans will get a taste of one of the fiercest and biggest rivalries in world football when the Samba Boys and Argentina meet in Jeddah four days later.
“We have just signed a four-star international tournament in early October with the participation of Brazil, Argentina and the Saudi Arabian team in addition to a fourth team that will be announced soon,” Turki Al-Sheikh, the president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, said on Friday.
The country’s leading sports official wants Egypt to complete the quartet. “As president of the Arab Football Federation, I hope that Egypt will be the fourth team.”
Whether the Pharaohs enter or not, the mini-tournament is good news for fans in Saudi Arabia.
“The most important part is that this gives the team the best kind of test for the Asian Cup,” an official from the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) told Arab News.
“We saw at the World Cup that we need as much quality international experience as possible and there can be nothing better than playing Brazil in front of what should be a sell-out crowd in Riyadh.”
Saudi Arabia have reasons to be optimistic ahead of the tournament. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is not only from Argentina but he led Chile to the 2016 Copa America title. His knowledge of South American football should provide even more of an advantage to the hosts.
“These are the kinds of games that coach Pizzi wants,” added the official. “We don’t want to arrange games against weaker teams that we can defeat comfortably, we want a real challenge.

“Not only that, but having Brazil at home gives all players in the league real incentive to try and get into the team and play against some of the best players in the world, such as Neymar. And it is also a great chance for the fans to see the same stars in the flesh.”
Brazil are happy with the arrangement. The five-time world champions had already arranged for the Saudi Arabia test but did not want to travel back to South America to take on Argentina. Staying in Saudi Arabia is also much easier for the Brazil’s European-based players, who will make up an even greater percentage of the squad than usual.
While the Brazilian federation has agreed not to call any players from the four Brazil Cup semifinalists — Flamengo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Cruzeiro — the SAFF expects both teams to bring all their stars for the trip, though Argentine maestro Lionel Messi is currently on a break from international football.
The tournament also marks another international sporting event in the Kingdom. The GSA have recently organized the Riyadh marathon, the Italian Super Cup final, the Royal Rumble in WWE as well as motorsport events and chess championships. Football remains the most important field however.
“It is commonplace for nations seeking to build a global presence in football to establish new competitions or stage high profile matches,” Simon Chadwick, Professor Sports Enterprise at Salford University in the United Kingdom told Arab News.
“Qatar did it in the run-up to them winning the World Cup vote in 2010, and China has done it recently with a new international tournament. 

“Such initiatives raise profiles, provide an opportunity to prove one’s expertise, and engage key stakeholders in football. As such, we should therefore expect more of the same from Saudi Arabia as the country seeks to become a leading football nation.”
Abdel Ezzat, who resigned as SAFF’s president in August in order to prepare for a run at the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation next year, added: “The country is going through an important change. Football can be a catalyst for change. My country can play an important role in football.
“Football is about growth and if you don’t grow economically, socially, technically, you will not be moving,” Ezzat added. “It’s not enough for us to be in the World Cup.”
Saudi Arabia, who take on North Korea, Lebanon and Qatar at the Asian Cup in January, start preparations for the tournament with another South American test against Bolivia on Monday before traveling to Amman in November for a friendly with Jordan.

Mickey Arthur calls on Pakistan to prove India defeat was one-off

Updated 20 September 2018

Mickey Arthur calls on Pakistan to prove India defeat was one-off

  • Pakistan coach wants improved performance when side next face big rivals India on Sunday in the UAE.
  • Asia Cup now down to Super Four stage.

LONDON: Mickey Arthur is confident Pakistan can bounce back from their big defeat against India in Dubai on Wednesday.
Arthur’s side lost by eight wickets to their arch-rivals in the final clash of the group stage at the Asia Cup, taking place in the UAE.
It came less than 24 hours after India struggled to beat Hong Kong, but Rohit Sharma’s side hit the disappointment of that performance for six to easily beat Pakistan.
Despite the defeat Arthur is sure his side can turn things around in the Super Four stage and go all the way and win the tournament.
“Whenever we go head-to-head with India, I am comfortable that we’ve got a dressing room of players who can stand up to it,” the Pakistan coach said.
“I am comfortable we’ve got a dressing room of players who, on any given day, can win. So I still think it’s a 50-50. Lucky this game was inconsequential in the tournament.”
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (three for 15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (three for 23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Skipper Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in just 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year — the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was not a happy man after watching his Pakistan side soundly beaten by India in Dubai. 

Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday. When they do Arthur will doubtless be looking for a response and for his side to stick to the set plans.
“On a wicket like that you need to strike really if you’re going to defend it. We didn’t strike early enough,” Arthur said.
“We went away from our plans too quickly. We said that our batters batted outside our roles and that wasn’t acceptable. With our bowling, we went outside our plans far too quickly. We wanted to bowl hard lengths, hit the top of off stump.
“It was tough to score then. We did that in the first six, and then (Usman Khan) Shinwari decided to come around the wicket and bowl a bouncer with fine leg up. And from there it just tumbled.
“We’re going to sit down and talk about that. It’s not good enough. We went outside our plans.
“That’s not acceptable. I think there was a bit of panic when they didn’t strike early.”
Also of concern to the Pakistan coach is the form of Mohammad Amir. The side’s main bowler has looked out of form recently and has struggled for wickets since last year’s Champions Trophy win.
“I’d be lying if I sat here and said there wasn’t (any concern about Amir),” Arthur said.
“I had a really good, long hard chat with him last night and I thought he came out and bowled really well. He hit the crease really hard. He ran in well. He’s been decelerating to the crease, but he didn’t do that today.
“He seemed more fluent, there was a little bit more pace there. And I was comfortable (with what he did), he bowled well. 
There is pressure on him, of course there is.”
There was much hype surrounding the clash, as there always is with any India vs. Pakistan match, but once Pakistan’s unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday’s showdown turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd in the UAE. They will all hope that Sunday’s rerun will dish up more drama and entertainment.