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

This is the start of a new era for both teams. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2019
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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.

FIND THOSE SCORING BOOTS

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.

PUT ON A SHOW

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.

SET THE TONE

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.


Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

Updated 20 June 2019
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Brazil jeered again after 0-0 draw against Venezuela

  • Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls

SALVADOR: Brazil followed a lackluster win over Bolivia with a scoreless draw against Venezuela in the Copa America on Tuesday, prompting more jeers from local fans.

Brazil had two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls, one by Gabriel Jesus early in the second half and another by Philippe Coutinho near the end of the match.

Brazil played better than they did in the opener against Bolivia, but were not able to break through the stout Venezuelan defense at the Arena Fonte Nova. Despite the setback, the hosts stayed at the top of Group A with four points, tied with Peru, which earlier Tuesday defeated Bolivia 3-1 in Rio de Janeiro. Venezuela, which opened with a 0-0 draw against Peru, has two points.

The group will be decided on Saturday with Brazil facing Peru in Sao Paulo and Venezuela taking on Bolivia in Belo Horizonte. The top two teams in each group advance to the next round, along with the two best third-place finishers.

Brazil thought they had scored with substitute Gabriel Jesus shortly after halftime, but the goal was disallowed after a review showed that Roberto Firmino, who made the pass to the Manchester City striker, was offside when the ball deflected off a Venezuela defender. The Brazilians complained, arguing that it was a pass — not a deflection — by the defender.

Coutinho’s goal with about five minutes left in regulation was reversed because his close-range shot deflected off Firmino, who was in an offside position in front of the net. The goal would have stood had the ball not touched the Liverpool forward.

Firmino had a goal disallowed late in the first half for pulling a defender inside the area before he scored.

Brazil’s first goal in the 3-0 win over Bolivia on Friday had come from a penalty awarded by video review.

The team had been jeered by fans in Sao Paulo after a lackluster first half against the Bolivians, but this time the crowd of nearly 42,000 fans in Salvador started booing closer to the end of the match at the Arena Fonte Nova. They also chanted “ole, ole” as the Venezuelans exchanged passes near the end.

Many had also jeered coach Tite when he replaced Casemiro by defensive midfielder Fernandinho instead of an attacking player.

It was Venezuela which had the best scoring opportunity in the first half with a close-range header by striker Salomon Rondon that missed just wide.

Brazil nearly got the winner in second-half stoppage time with a header by Fernandinho that nearly found the far corner.

Brazil are seeking a ninth Copa America title. They won the tournament all four previous times it hosted the event, the last time in 1989.

Venezuela’s best Copa finish was a fourth place in 2011.