Juan Antonio Pizzi hails Saudi Arabia’s ‘history-makers’ after win over Egypt

Saudi Arabia's coach Juan Antonio Pizzi congratulates defender Osama Hawsawi after they won the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Saudi Arabia and Egypt. (AFP/PHILIPPE DESMAZES)
Updated 26 June 2018

Juan Antonio Pizzi hails Saudi Arabia’s ‘history-makers’ after win over Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi dismissed the suggestion that Monday’s night 2-1 World Cup victory over Egypt was of little consequence
  • Pizzi’s Green Falcons claimed Saudi Arabia’s first World Cup win since 1994

VOLGOGRAD: Dead rubber? Dead wrong.
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi dismissed the suggestion that Monday’s night 2-1 World Cup victory over Egypt was of little consequence, stressing that Salman Al-Faraj and Salem Al-Dawsari have etched their names into history.
Pizzi’s Green Falcons claimed Saudi Arabia’s first World Cup win since 1994 when Al-Dawsari drilled a shot past Essam El-Hadary in added time with the score tied at 1-1.
Al-Faraj had earlier scored from the penalty spot to cancel out Mohamed Salah’s opener and as Al-Dawsari performed a celebratory forward-flip, his Argentine coach could be seen hugging his staff ecstatically.
It was a much deserved win after dominating their Middle East rivals throughout, finishing the match with 61 percent possession and having managed 22 shots at the opposition goal. The North Africans had scored with their only shot on target. It was put to Pizzi in his post-match press conference that perhaps his team had played free of their shackles because with neither side capable of progressing from Group A there was nothing at stake.
“You say there was nothing at stake,” said Pizzi. “But you don’t know what it is to play a World Cup. For me as a coach and my players, being at a World Cup is the most important thing. So there was a lot at stake for us.
“You really don’t understand what it means for Salem and Salman to be able to score at a World Cup. They will be able to tell this to their children, to their grandchildren, in 30 years: ‘I scored during a World Cup’. This is amazing. So there was a lot at stake. Every single match is important.
“That is why it’s so difficult, that’s why there’s so many media representatives here and many people supporting us and telling the world what is going on here. Because, in our job, this is the most important thing ever.”
For the third consecutive game here in Russia, Pizzi’s side conceded an early goal, this time Salah beating the offside trap to latch on to a long ball and lob Yasser Al-Mosailem. Yet rather than capitulating like against Russia or struggling to create any goalscoring opportunities like against Uruguay, instead Saudi rallied and started to pepper the goal of El-Hadary, who became the World Cup’s oldest ever player at 45 years and five months.
El-Hadary, who plays his domestic football in the Kingdom with Al Taawoun, made an excellent save from a Fahad Al-Muwallad penalty in the 41st minute, but five minutes later, could not replicate his heroics when Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan used VAR to hand the Saudi’s a second attempt. Al-Faraj, who had wanted to hit the first, demanded the ball, placed it on the spot and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way.
“I think before the first goal, they didn’t create chances and we made no mistakes,” Pizzi said. There was another chance for Salah afterwards, but these were the only two opportunities for Egypt. We kept the ball in the channels and played wide. We deserved to win.
“We saw in the first half that if we could speed up the pace of play, we’d have opportunities and that’s what we did. The players knew opportunities would arise. They saw Egypt’s weaknesses and took advantage.”


Kuwait’s football league to resume with first match held without audience

Updated 15 August 2020

Kuwait’s football league to resume with first match held without audience

  • The first match will be between Kuwait Sports club and Al-Naser Sport Club

DUBAI: Kuwait’s football league will resume on Saturday after its suspension since March due to the coronavirus outbreak, state news agency KUNA reported.
The first match will be between Kuwait Sports club and Al-Naser Sport Club.