Saudi Arabia left to rue lack of concentration after letting two-goal lead slip against Bolivia

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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
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Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh. (Twitter: Saudi National Team)
Updated 11 September 2018

Saudi Arabia left to rue lack of concentration after letting two-goal lead slip against Bolivia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia were left to rue a lack of concentration and discipline as they let a two-goal lead slip against Bolivia in Riyadh.
Goals from Yehya Al-Shehri and Saudi star Salem Al-Dawsari from the penalty spot were not enough to beat the South Americans at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, who battled back with goals from Jhasmani Campos and a late penalty from Marcelo Martins.
Unlike Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side, Bolivia did not play at this summer's World Cup. But their FIFA ranking of 59th, compared to Saudi Arabia’s 70th, illustrated that the hosts knew they had a tough challenge on their hands.
From the start at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium Saudi Arabia looked busy and played with purpose, getting a 2-0 lead after just 11 minutes. But Campos’ goal came 10 minutes before the break, and once Pizzi made five changes to his starting line-up, Bolivia came back into the game.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Martins scored to equalize and both teams had to be content with a draw.
The Green Falcons came into the friendly on the back of an up-and-down World Cup. Having been thrashed 5-0 in the tournament opener against hosts Russia, they then narrowly lost 1-0 to Uruguay before ending on a high with a 2-1 victory against Arab rivals Egypt.
That was enough to convince the Saudi Arabian Football Federation that Juan Antonio Pizzi, appointed late last year, was the right man to lead the side into next January’s Asian Cup in the UAE.
It was also enough for the side to come into the friendly against the South Americans confident they could carry on the form shown in the last two clashes at the World Cup and set up a successful end to the year and subsequent springboard into the Asian Cup.
The World Cup campaign had illustrated the side’s strengths, while at the same time highlighted its glaring weaknesses — solid in defense (bar the opening shocker against Russia), but all too shy in front of goal. For all their possession they failed to create much and when they did were too profligate, much like the second half against Bolivia.

But a win and a draw from the past two matches at least indicates the side are on the right path and gives them something to build on heading into the Asian Cup in five months' time. 

 


All systems go for Saudi International

Updated 3 min 20 sec ago

All systems go for Saudi International

  • Golf Saudi CEO says, ‘We’re really excited’; Johnson, Koepka upbeat

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour rolled out the welcome mat for 132 players — a much stronger field than last year’s lineup — who will vie for total prize money of $3.5 million in the Saudi International.

“We are pleased to have everybody here. The players, they come and enjoy our tournament,” Al-Sorour told a press conference on Tuesday ahead of this week’s second edition of the European Tour event at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

“We’re pretty excited. The championship, the Saudi International has been put on the world map, in the European Tour. We are really excited for the world ranking. Our field is really strong,” said Al-Sorour, who also discussed the Kingdom’s golf development program.

“Our main pillar out of the six pillars is mass participation. It’s inclusive. When we focus on mass participation, we did not stop at the development of the national team. We want to develop the full ecosystem of golf. Some of the jobs we are trying to create are the customer service and customer care, caddy master, agronomy and greenskeeping and the multiple different layers of getting into the field of agronomy and natural resources,” he said.

Also gracing the press conference on the second day of tournament week Tuesday were defending champion and world No.5 Dustin Johnson and world No.1 Brooks Koepka as well as the Saudi trio and local favorites professional Othman Almulla and amateurs Saud Alsharif and Faisal Salhab.

The US duo headlines one of the strongest lineups on the Middle East leg of the European Tour, including 10 major winners.

“I’m looking forward to a big year. I feel like the game is in pretty good form,” said Johnson.

“I’m really pleased with how I played last year here, I like the golf course and enjoyed myself. I’m excited to be back for this tournament. But because you won at a golf course, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win again. I’m going to have to work for it this week.”

Koepka is returning to the Kingdom after another successful season that saw him win a fourth major crown.

The 29-year-old is continuing his return to competition following a knee injury that kept him out of action at the end of last season.

“I had three months off, so there was no point in having a holiday. It was more of a work thing in my off-season to get my game ready. It felt good in Abu Dhabi, it felt good in Dubai and it now feels good here,” said Koepka.

Both players believe the 7,010-yard par 70 Royal Greens & Country Club layout facing the players this week has made major advances.

“It looks in incredible shape just as it was last year. Any time you can give a course an extra year to develop, you’re going to see progression,” added Koepka.

“The greens are a lot faster. The rough’s a lot thicker. It’s settled in nicely.”

The course stretches along the spectacular Red Sea coastline, giving Dustin Johnson a chance to indulge another sporting passion before his practice round this morning — scuba diving.

“I had no idea you could do that in Saudi Arabia. Last year, I met a friend who lived here and took us out on a scuba dive, so that was something I was looking forward to doing again.”

For the Saudi trio, the tournament, which also features US stars Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed as well as European heavyweights Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood, will be one of the most challenging weeks of their sporting lives.

They all looked confident while focusing on the positives as they prepare for the blue- ribbon event.