Saudi Arabia U-23 penalty hero wants to take momentum into AFC Iraq clash

Saudi Arabia U-23 penalty hero wants to take momentum into AFC Iraq clash
Saudi Arabia scored a last-gasp penalty to claim dramatic draw against Jordan in their opening U23 AFC Championship match. (AP)
Updated 11 January 2018

Saudi Arabia U-23 penalty hero wants to take momentum into AFC Iraq clash

Saudi Arabia U-23 penalty hero wants to take momentum into AFC Iraq clash

LONDON: Rakan Al-Anaz, the penalty hero from the 2-2 draw with Jordan, wants Saudi Arabia to carry on the momentum they finished the last match with into Saturday’s AFC U-23 Championship clash with Iraq.
The young Green Falcons finished the game with Jordan like a train, scoring twice in the last five minutes, including a match-saving spot-kick from Al-Anaz deep into stoppage time, to rescue a point against Jordan, who had raced into a two-goal lead. Saudi Arabia will now play Iraq on Saturday and Malaysia on Tuesday in a bid to get out of Group C and progress to the quarter-finals.
“In the match against Iraq we will start very strong and determined and we hope to get the victory,” said Al-Anaz to the AFC website. “This result (against Jordan) can’t be considered good for us, the only good result is to win, but we conceded goals from mistakes so the draw is better than nothing. We hope we can make up for this result in the coming matches.”
Al-Anaz, who was one of the stars for Saudi Arabia at the AFC U-19 Championship in Bahrain in 2016, started the game against Jordan on the bench, but the Al-Nassr midfielder believes the strength of this team lies in its depth.
“There is no difference between the starting 11 and the substitutes in our team, everyone is ready,” he said. “The coach insisted on that before the match, and the important thing is to help the team to score and get the results.”
Midfielder Osama Al-Khalaf is confident Daniel Teglia’s team can qualify for the knock-out stages.
“I see a point as better than nothing,” the 21 year-old from Saudi Professional League club Al-Ettifaq told the Saudi Football Federation after the 2-2 draw with Jordan, “The most important thing was the spirit that was present on the pitch and that is what is asked of us. Ahead of us are two matches with Iraq and Malaysia. We can make amends in those games and God willing, we can qualify.”