Juan Antonio Pizzi hails perfect preparation after South Korea draw

Having seen his side battle to a 0-0 draw with South Korea on Monday, Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said the performance had been the perfect preparation for the upcoming Asian Cup in the UAE. (Twitter: @SaudiNT)
Updated 03 January 2019
0

Juan Antonio Pizzi hails perfect preparation after South Korea draw

ABU DHABI: Having seen his side battle to a 0-0 draw with South Korea on Monday, Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said the performance had been the perfect preparation for the upcoming Asian Cup in the UAE.
Pizzi went into the game with Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Shahrani and Salem Al-Dosari to call upon, and he made use of his star players in the last friendly before their opening Asian Cup group game against North Korea.
The first half of the game saw a number of Saudi attempts on the Korean goal, but the Green Falcons were unable to break through the resilient defense. 
But Pizzi’s men looked the stronger team at the Baniyas Stadium throughout the game. They managed to restrict the Koreans to eight shots, none of them on target. The Green Falcons also had more of the ball and were the more disciplined of the two teams.
Saudi Arabia got lucky late in the second half when the Koreans missed a penalty kick in the 82nd minute after Ki Song blazed wide from the spot.
After the game, Pizzi was satisfied with the energy levels shown by his team and said the game had been an “interesting encounter between two distinguished teams,” in which both teams “imposed their style on the game.”
Pizzi also confirmed that he took Al-Shahrani off midway through the second half as a precautionary measure, and that the player did not sustain any serious injury and should be fit for the Asian Cup.
Saudi Arabia are in Group E of the Asian Cup with Qatar, Lebanon and North Korea, and will start their bid for glory against the latter at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium.


Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019
0

Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.