Saudi Arabia coach describes World Cup defeat as a ‘shameful situation’

Saudi Arabia coach describes World Cup defeat as a ‘shameful situation’
Juan Antonio Pizzi presided over a 5-0 defeat to Russia that leaves Saudi Arabia with a mountain to climb. (Reuters)
Updated 15 June 2018

Saudi Arabia coach describes World Cup defeat as a ‘shameful situation’

Saudi Arabia coach describes World Cup defeat as a ‘shameful situation’
  • Green Falcons thrashed 5-0 by Russia in opening game
  • 'We did not play as we had planned to'

LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi was at a loss to explain why his side fluffed their lines on their big opening night, insisting he did not see that result or performance coming after such an encouraging buildup to the tournament.
The Green Falcons were full of confidence heading into the tournament, with key midfielder Abdullah Otayf even boldly claiming the team had their sights set on reaching the last eight. But they will have to drastically recalibrate their expectations now after Russia thrashed them 5-0 in Moscow. Pizzi was asked if the occasion perhaps got to his side.
“I am not sure if it is because it was the first game against the hosts it had an impact on the result or not, but for sure we were not doing what we wanted to do,” he said. “The opposition really didn’t have to make a huge effort to win by a landslide. This is something that is not very common in these sorts of games.
“That’s what happened and we have to recover and overcome this situation; this shameful situation. And then thinking about the next match.”
Pizzi can console him with the fact that his side enjoyed 60 percent of possession, but they did nothing with it and did not register a single attempt on goal. Russia, on the other hand, were far more penetrative and were ruthless, scoring five times from their seven shots on target.
“I already said we did not play as we had planned to,” said Pizzi. “But on the other hand we have seen that certain things are better. Of course we can and will improve. But it takes time. We have to plan for next game, be positive and try to recover.”
The Green Falcons could certainly not use a lack of preparation time as an excuse. The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) arranged five training camps and nine friendlies. Russia, on the other hand, only had five warm-up games.
“I believe that we have arrived here well prepared,” said Pizzi. “We have been preparing for this and my players have shown they are ready to play a World Cup. I can only say what I have said before: This game cannot be the reference. It’s true we have not done what we came here to do. We have not done what we have done in previous matches that gave us good results.”
Inevitably, Pizzi was asked about his future, particularly in light of the fact that SAFF sacked Carlos Alberto Parreira midway through the 1998 tournament.
“That is a very pertinent question and a great one given how I feel right now,” said Pizzi who only took over in November. “Listen, I have my own philosophy and try to do things the best I can and try to convey it the best I can. Everything I do, I do giving my all. There are certain situations I cannot control — I cannot control that. I have trust in my players and fully trust that we will have a better performance during the next game.”