Peru offer perfect South American test for Saudi Arabia ahead of Uruguay World Cup match

Davide Zappacosta of Italy (L) competes for the ball with Taiseer Jaber Al Jassam of Saudi Arabia during the International Friendly match between Saudi Arabia and Italy on May 28, 2018 in St Gallen, Switzerland. (Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Updated 03 June 2018

Peru offer perfect South American test for Saudi Arabia ahead of Uruguay World Cup match

  • Arab News understands that some of the players who did not feature in the 2-1 defeat against Italy last week will get a final chance to impress the boss
  • Peru, who take on France, Denmark and Australia in Group C, have an in-demand Argentine coach of their own in Ricardo Gareca

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s friendly against Peru today is not only the last chance for five players to impress before the final World Cup squad of 23 is named tomorrow, it is the team’s first South American test in almost four years.
The last came in October 2014 when a last-minute strike from Naif Hazazi earned a 1-1 draw with Uruguay in Jeddah. The same team are the Green Falcons’ second opponents in Russia, on June 20, six days after the
opening match against the hosts in Moscow, their final group match is against Egypt on June 25.
“This is a good test for us,” coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said.
“Peru may not play exactly in the same way as Uruguay but it is still good experience for the players.”
The Argentine boss led Chile to the 2016 Copa America title and his knowledge of the continent’s teams may prove useful against a Peru side
preparing for their first World Cup since 1982.
“This is the next step in our preparations and it is a vital one,” said Pizzi, who led Saudi Arabia to victories over Algeria and Greece last month and went on to stress that the side use this match to keep implementing his
tactics ahead of the big kick-off in 11 days’ time.
“The players have been working hard and responding well in training and in games. We want to keep building on that and developing.”
Arab News understands that some of the players who did not feature in the 2-1 defeat against Italy last week will get a final chance to impress the boss. It is especially important for playmaker Nawaf Al-Abed to show he has fully recovered from a lengthy injury.
There is also, however, a feeling that this game, sandwiched between the two glamor friendlies against Italy and Germany, offers an improving Saudi Arabia a chance to collect a good result against a fellow World Cup participant. Whatever happens, heading into the opening game against Russia on the back of three successive defeats would not be ideal.
There may be a more aggressive start in St. Gallen compared to the relatively cautious first half against Italy. There is also the question over whether to start with a recognized striker in the form of Mohannad Aseri or Mohammad Al-Sahlawi, or to play with a more mobile frontline that includes speedy attackers Fahad Al-Muwallad and Yahya Al-Shehri.
Against Italy, Aseri failed to have much impact as the Italians cut off the supply line to the Al-Ahli target man but after his substitution and the introduction of Al-Muwallad, the Green Falcons started to cause problems with their pace.
Veteran midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim is a certain starter in Russia and, regardless of results, is only concerned with using these games to prepare the team as perfectly as possible for June 14.
“This training camp is about getting the team ready physically and technically,” the Al-Ahli man said.
“We can take confidence from the game against Italy and now we need to build on that against Peru and whatever the outcome of the games, they have a purpose which is to continue the team’s development.”
The second-half performance against Italy was encouraging and a continuation of that against a team that arrived in Europe from South America only on Friday, after defeating Scotland 2-0 two days earlier in a final game on home soil, is what Pizzi is looking for.
Peru, who take on France, Denmark and Australia in Group C, have an in-demand Argentine coach of their own in Ricardo Gareca.
“This is the first game in Europe and we need to become accustomed to the conditions,” he said. “We know that Saudi Arabia played well against Italy and this will be a good test.”
The South Americans have been heartened by news that star captain and all-time leading goalscorer Paolo Guerrero had a 14-month ban for cocaine use overturned earlier in the week and will be available for the tournament in Russia.


Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

  • International exposure key to Saudi riders’ success: Equestrian federation chief
  •  Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field

RIYADH: Saudi showjumpers at this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival aren’t just riding to win — they are battling for places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the country’s equestrian chief said on Sunday.

“Saudi riders’ participation in international championships is very important,” said Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

“Coming in contact with international riders will provide them with what they need to achieve their ambitions, which we all know are very big. That is why Saudi riders always have remarkable presence on the international level — hard competitors to beat, like the young rider Waleed Al-Ghamdi, who came second in the first stage of the competition.

“We are waiting for the results of this championship to draft the program for the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good chance at winning but, in this sport one can never be sure until the end of the stage. We will always be sure of the self-confidence our riders have, which will be felt as they represent the Kingdom in any competition,” he added.

Prince Abdullah expressed his happiness at the start of the first stage of the International Show Jumping Championship as part of the Diriyah Equestrian Festival

“The success is due to God, the support the sport has from the wise leadership of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA)," he said

The festival — which concludes next weekend, Dec. 19-21 — is taking place at Al-Duhami Farm, the equestrian arena built by Saudi Olympic legend Ramzy Al-Duhami and his wife Sara Baban.

In addition to showjumping, the attractions include art and photography exhibitions, cultural activities and a range of cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field, showcasing their skills and talents.

Diriyah has always been a symbol of authenticity and culture, while entertainment came with its international sports activities characterized by their sophistication, strength and diversity.

Mohammed Al-Mudayfar, owner of the artistic incubator “Resin Art” taking part in the activities, said: “The exhibition aims at highlighting the Kingdom’s identity in line with the festival’s. By participating, I seek to revive the Kingdom’s culture and introduce it to the visitors.

'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)

“The exhibition includes 60 Saudi artworks. They received huge support so they can showcase them in a suitable manner, in line with this year’s fun and exciting activities,” he added, noting: “Featured handicrafts, paintings and sculptures are all up for sale.  

“We provide the necessary space and materials for any artist that wishes to showcase his work. Supporting young Saudis and talented ones in particular is a national duty that society should sense its importance especially when it is related to our heritage and traditions.”

The activities area had a part dedicated to kids that has educational and entertainment activities such as painting horse heads made of cork.

Another exhibition called “Objectives” managed by 24-year-old Lama Al-Thubaiti offered visitors a variety of jewelry and accessories that could be modified according to their requests. Al-Thubaiti works as a doctor for people with hearing disabilities and has been working to develop her brand for five years now.

“We are very happy with the visitors’ reaction and our presence here is remarkable as we get ready to open our headquarters soon,” she said.  

The activities area also featured a wide range of restaurants, Saudi and international cafes, a photography corner and cultural facilities such as Arabian and historic horse exhibition, engraving, henna and local artists.

Diriyah Equestrian Festival is taking place for the second year in a row to bring the international event to the Kingdom, reflect the traditional values of equestrianism according to European standards. The event will run for two weeks, providing participants with the chance to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.