Saudi Arabia brush aside Lebanon on course for the Asian Cup second round

Saudi Arabia's Hussain Al-Mogahwi celebrates scoring their second goal with Fahad Al Muwallad and team mates. (Reuters)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia brush aside Lebanon on course for the Asian Cup second round

  • Goals either side of half-time enough to send Green Falcons to top of Group E
  • Pizzi's players looking good for a tilt at the title

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia are almost certain of a place in the last 16 of the Asian Cup after a relatively simple 2-0 win over Lebanon.

Having impressed during their 4-0 opening win over North Korea there was much expectation that the Green Falcons could once again make a statement of intent in the UAE. They did not disappoint. 

A goal in each half was the least the Green Falcons deserved for a dominant performance at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai. It was a measured, assured performance and one that suggests Juan Antonio Pizzi’s players can go far. 

Fahad Al-Muwallad slotted home on 12 minutes during an impressive first half for Juan Antonio Pizzi's men. Hussain Al-Moqahwi doubled the lead in a scrappier second half. 

In truth Saudi Arabia rarely got out of third gear, simply because they did not have to. Coming in to the tournament Pizzi declared he was very happy with how the preparations had gone — the former Spain international revealing the squad was reaping the benefits of all being together for a continued stretch of time. 

With two wins from two, the Green Falcons lead Group E with six points and could advance with a game in hand if North Korea fails to beat Qatar on Sunday.

For anyone thinking Pizzi and Co’s 100 percent record bodes well for a tilt at the title the omens are very good. This is the Saudi Arabia have won their opening two games at the Asian Cup for the first time since 1996, when the Green Falcons last won the title.

After two defeats, Lebanon faces a must win against North Korea to have a chance to make it to the next round.

 


Naomi Osaka not worried about form after shock Dubai defeat

Updated 1 min 7 sec ago
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Naomi Osaka not worried about form after shock Dubai defeat

LONDON: Naomi Osaka said she is not worried after the world No. 1 was shocked in the second round at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
The two-time Grand Slam champion was convincingly beaten 6-3, 6-3 by Kristina Mladenovic in her first match since she memorably won the Australian Open last month — her second consecutive Slam success.
Heading into the clash there was much talk about her lack of action on court and her split with coach Sascha Bajin. She said there was nothing to the split with Bajin other than “happiness was more important than success.”
And having been easily beaten by the Dubai-based Frenchwomen Osaka said she was not troubled by her form.
“The Australian Open was not even a month ago,” Osaka said.
“I mean, this was just one match. I feel like even if I don’t win any matches for the rest of the year, I wouldn’t say I’m concerned.
“I think I’m pretty young. I still feel like I have a lot to learn.”
The Japanese star, who became the first Asian woman to reach the summit of the rankings, added that the shock defeat might actually work in her favor.
“For me, that’s sort of my biggest thing after this match. I think I play well after I lose a sort of bad match,” the 21-year-old said.
“I’m just looking forward to the next tournament.
“Before US Open (which she won), I lost those three matches in a row. I was just thinking, like, ‘wow, am I ever going to do anything in my life?’”