Saudi Arabia errors causing problems for Juan Antonio Pizzi

Despite snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat the Chilean coach Pizzi admitted he was happier with the Green Falcons. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Saudi Arabia errors causing problems for Juan Antonio Pizzi

  • The Saudi Arabia coach was speaking having watched his side draw 1-1 with Iraq in Riyadh on Monday
  • Despite snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat the Chilean coach admitted he was happier with the Green Falcons

RIYADH: Juan Antonio Pizzi has told the Green Falcons they can kiss goodbye any chance of Asian Cup glory unless they stop committing sloppy errors.
The Saudi Arabia coach was speaking having watched his side draw 1-1 with Iraq in Riyadh on Monday — a match that once again laid bare the Pizzi’s players’ propensity to gift the opposition goals.
The hosts were facing defeat at the King Saud University Stadium after Muhanad Ali put Iraq ahead after 71 minutes but there was relief in injury time as Abdulaziz Al-Bishi scored deep into added time to salvage a draw.
Despite snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat the Chilean coach admitted he was happier with the Green Falcons after their 2-0 loss at the hands of Brazil on Friday.
“We did not meet the level we have set for ourselves (against Iraq),” Pizzi said. “We were not at the level that we saw against Brazil. Iraq played well in defense and were well-organized. Iraq also took advantage of our mistakes during the game.”
Individual mistakes have littered Saudi Arabia’s matches over the past few months and were in evidence in September in a 2-2 draw with Bolivia. Once again, Iraq took advantage of a sloppy pass at the back to score the opening goal to leave the hosts chasing the game.
Pizzi is all too aware that the side cannot afford to continue being generous to the opposition ahead of the Asian Cup.
“Repeated individual mistakes do have an effect,” said the 2016 Copa America winning coach.
“We also need to take our chances when they come.”
Errors at the back and a lack of a reliable goalscorer are the major issues going forward into January where they will face North Korea, Lebanon and Qatar in their group.
Pizzi handed a debut to Niger-born striker Abdulfatah Adam but the Al-Tawoun struggled to make an impact before being withdrawn before the hour.
Overall, however, the coach is positive about the upcoming continental tournament.
“It is good to see what we need to do ahead of the Asian Cup. These two games with Brazil and Iraq have given us a chance to look at some of the players and their readiness.
“I am a serious coach who works with precision and effectiveness and this will stand us in good stead of the Asian Cup.”
The coach was buoyed by praise from Brazilian star Neymar, talking ahead of the South American clash with Argentina.
“I was not surprised by the level of Saudi Arabia against us,” the Paris Saint-Germain forward said.
“We saw at the World Cup what they could do and this is a team that I feel has lots of potential. They will develop further in the coming years.”
Iraq coach Srecko Katanec was left frustrated after the 94th minute equalizer cost him a first victory with Iraq since taking charge of the team last month.
“We deserved to win but decisions went against us at the end when we should have had a foul given against us,” the Slovenian said before taking the positives from the game.
“We played well against a strong Saudi Arabia team in Riyadh and the overall performance was a strong one.”
Iraq lost 4-0 to Argentina last Thursday and bounced back to give the former UAE coach hope ahead of the Asian Cup and group games against Iran, Vietnam and Yemen.
“We haven’t had much time together on the training pitch so there were lots to be encouraged about in two games against good teams. We need more time to build team cohesion and improve our organization.
“I have been happy with the players and there is obviously a lot of talent here.
“We are developing and gradually improving.”


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.