Saudi Arabia thrash North Korea 4-0 in opening Asian Cup match

Fahad Al Muwallad scores his side's fourth goal during the AFC Asian Cup group E soccer match between Saudi Arabia and North Korea. (AP)
Updated 09 January 2019

Saudi Arabia thrash North Korea 4-0 in opening Asian Cup match

  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's side looked impressive in their Group E opener in Dubai.
  • 10-man North Korea had no answer to the Green Falcons attacking verve.

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia laid down a marker as they ruthlessly dismissed 10-man North Korea at the Asian Cup. 

The Green Falcons, humbled 5-0 in their opening match at last year's World Cup against Russia, looked far more at home in neighboring UAE as they tore North Korea apart 4-0 in their Group E match.

It was a performance that tagged Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men as one of the teams to beat at the continental showpiece along with Iran, who thrashed Yemen 5-0 on Monday.

The Green Falcons attacked relentlessly in the opening stages and Hatan Bahbri put them in front in the 28th minute, turning defender Ri Il Jin inside-out and firing into the far corner.

They were 2-0 up just nine minutes later, when Hussain Almoqahwi's free-kick glanced off the outstretched boot of Mohammed Al-Fatil and past Ri Myong Guk in the North Korean goal.

North Korea already had a mountain to climb but their plight worsened just before half-time, when Han Kwang Song received his second yellow card for bringing down Almoqahwi.

Salem Al-Dawsari made it 3-0 with a smart finish on 69 minutes before Fahad Al-Muwallad bagged a soft fourth goal against an exhausted Korean defence three minutes from time.

A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

Updated 20 March 2019

A HAT-TRICK OF HOPES: What the UAE and Saudi Arabia should be looking for from their friendly

  • Can the Whites and Green Falcons find the back of the net more often?
  • Both teams need to set the tone ahead of the important World Cup qualifiers.

LONDON: Ahead of Thursday’s friendly between the UAE and Saudi Arabia Arab News looks at the main priorities for both sides as they embark on their new eras after the Asian Cup and ahead of the all-important the World Cup qualifiers.


For the past 18 months both sides have struggled for goals. Under Alberto Zaccheroni the UAE scored just 10 goals in the past nine matches — five of those coming against lowly Kyrgyzstan and India — and likewise the Green Falcons have also struggled to find the back of the net. Heading toward the World Cup qualifiers, now is the time to find those scoring boots.


Both sides have technically gifted players, can keep the ball and at times trouble opposition defenses. But both have been too defensive, too safety-first and, at times, too dull. Football is supposed to be entertainment, and the friendlies ahead of the World Cup qualifiers might be no bad time to throw caution to the wind and see what the players can do in the final third.


As the modern cliche goes, a week is a long time in football. With all the sackings and player movements, it is not hard to see the kernel of truth in that overused saying. But, conversely, time can also move very fast in the “Beautiful Game.” It may be six months before the World Cup qualifiers begin, but it will be September before the coaches and players know it. Set the tone and tactics now and triumphs will be easier to come by then and, more importantly, further into the future.