Saudi Arabia's Young Falcons soar to shock tournament favorites China at Asian Games

Camara celebrates scoring the hat-trick that sent the Young Falcons through to the last-eight in Indonesia. (AFP)
Updated 24 August 2018

Saudi Arabia's Young Falcons soar to shock tournament favorites China at Asian Games

  • Hat-trick for Haroune Camara gifts Saudi Arabia a surprise win over China.
  • Coach Al-Shehri proud of his players after they upset the odds to see off favorites.

JAKARTA: Keen to leave a lasting impression on national team manager Juan Antonio Pizzi who was watching from afar, young Saudi Arabian striker Haroune Camara netted a hat-trick to help defeat hotly tipped China 4-3 and book the Young Falcons a place in the Asian Games quarterfinals.
China had arrived at the Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium as favorites, having scored 11 times and conceded just once during a group stage in which they finished top, with three wins from three. Yet Camara, who broke into the Al-Qadisiyah first team last season and trained with Pizzi’s senior national team ahead of the World Cup, had other plans.
The 20-year-old had yet to score at this month’s U23 tournament, but that changed in the 17th minute when he won the ball in midfield, capitalised on China’s high defensive line and raced through to fire past Wei Chen. He added his second five minutes after Saad Al-Selouli had doubled Saudi Arabia’s lead and, in the second half and with China getting a foothold in the game, he found space to smash home a half-volley to complete his hat-trick.
“I am very happy with my performance,” he said, posing with the match-ball.
“This competition is very important to us and every player tried to do his best today because we know coach Pizzi is watching. We hope to leave a good impression. It was a difficult game, but we made it easier for ourselves because we took our chances in the first half.”
As Saudi Arabia’s full-backs visibly tired, China rallied, scoring three times in the last 10 minutes to set up a nervy finish, but Saad Al-Shehri’s side held on to progress to the last-eight, where they will meet Japan on Monday.
For 75 minutes, Saudi Arabia looked like the team Al-Shehri had spoken about; a team capable not only of creating goals but of taking them too. In the opening period, they scored with their only three shots on target, Al-Salouli’s coming after a superb dribbling run from Abdulrahman Ghareeb who drew in two defenders before releasing his teammate who lofted a perfect finish over the outrushing Chen. Ayman Al-Khulaifi and Yousef Al-Harbi again impressed.
“I am proud of the players for what they did in this game, especially the 75 minutes in which we fought,” said Al-Shehri. “We ran a lot and played against a very good team that has been preparing for this tournament for the past two years. China are here with players all born in 1995 while we have came with all players born in 1997, so we must be very proud.”
China coach Massimiliano Maddaloni struggled to explain his team’s first-half performance, but insisted his side were still in the match until Camara netted the Young Falcons’ fourth on the hour mark.
“In the first half, they attacked our centre-backs, which gave us big problems,” said the Italian. “Their movement created chaos for our defensive organisation and we suffered a lot. In the second half though, we had many opportunities to make goals and if we didn’t concede that fourth, we could have got back in it. If the game had lasted even a little bit longer I think we would have equalized.”


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.