Juan Antonio Pizzi confident Saudi Arabia can mount an Asian Cup title challenge

Salem Al-Dawsari scored for the Green Falcons during their 4-0 win over North Korea and will be a key man for the side in the UAE. (AFP))
Updated 11 January 2019

Juan Antonio Pizzi confident Saudi Arabia can mount an Asian Cup title challenge

LONDON: Saudi Arabia are feeling confident and ready to take on anyone, that is the message Juan Antonio Pizzi has delivered to the team’s title rivals ahead of today’s Group E clash against Lebanon.
The Green Falcons won their opening match in emphatic style against North Korea on Tuesday. The 4-0 win seemingly imbuing the side with a lot of belief as well as the all-important three points.
They can confirm their spot in the second round with victory over a Lebanon side who felt aggrieved during their 2-0 loss at the hands of Qatar — coach Miodrag Radulovic hitting out at what his thought was awful refereeing.
Pizzi and his players are chomping at the bit to get at the Cedars and confirm that they are one of the teams to beat in the UAE.
“If the team continues at the level that they did against North Korea, it will be difficult for any other nation in the tournament to defeat us,” the coach said.
“We are ready for (the match against Lebanon), we hope to apply what we planned for in the match. We trust in our abilities and will look to impose our philosophy.”
Such confidence is perhaps understandable. The win was Saudi Arabia’s first in an Asian Cup since 1996 and only confirmed that the good run of form shown coming into the tournament was a pointer to possible success rather than false promise.
But while confidence is clear for all too see Pizzi insisted they will not be taking victory against Lebanon for granted.
“I previously said at the beginning of the tournament that every team has its strong points, and I think Lebanon are ready to match our strengths. We know the only way to win is to do our best,” the former Spain international said.
Green Falcons midfielder Hussein Al-Moqahwi illustrated the players were singing from the same song book as their boss revealing he and his teammates were expecting a tough test against Radulovic’s team.
“Tomorrow’s game will be tough, especially since Lebanon lost their first match,” the midfielder said. “This is one of the most dangerous games, but hopefully the three points will be ours.”
Before the tournament Pizzi emphasized the benefit of finally having his players all together for a long stretch of time, saying he was able implement his ideas far better than at the World Cup, when he was only six months into the job and very much in at the deep end.
That is something Al-Moqahwi agreed with.
“We have adapted to the manager’s style of play and hopefully will be able to implement it during the match,” he said.


Wimbledon will be canceled, believes Jamie Murray

Updated 31 March 2020

Wimbledon will be canceled, believes Jamie Murray

  • Tennis is at a standstill until June 7, with the entire European clay-court season already wiped out and the only Grand Slam event played on grass is expected to be officially canceled
  • Wimbledon organizers have ruled out playing the two-week tournament behind closed doors

LONDON: Cancelling Wimbledon is the only realistic option open to organizers as they grapple with the chaos caused by the coronavirus, says two-time Grand Slam men’s doubles champion Jamie Murray.
Tennis is at a standstill until June 7, with the entire European clay-court season already wiped out and the only Grand Slam event played on grass is expected to be officially canceled on Wednesday.
Wimbledon organizers have ruled out playing the two-week tournament, slated to run from June 29 to July 12, behind closed doors.
The French Open has already been postponed, shoehorned into the schedule in late September, and it will be difficult for Wimbledon to rearrange.
Murray, a Wimbledon men’s doubles finalist in 2015 and a two-time mixed doubles champion, said postponing the tournament presented a series of hurdles, including shorter evenings.
“I think for them, it’s difficult to move the tournament back because you’re running into other tournaments that are for the moment still on the schedule,” the 34-year-old Scotsman told the BBC on Tuesday.
“And also just things like daylight to host the event. Each week that passes, you get less and less light to play the tournament.
“Obviously they play until nine and 10 o’clock each night at Wimbledon.”
Murray, whose younger brother Andy is a two-time Wimbledon singles champion, is kicking his heels in the absence of tennis.
“I’m just at home, taking the necessary precautions, and trying to stay as active as I can,” he said.
“It’s different. We’re used to being on the road all the time, used to being in different cities every week, and you kind of become institutionalized to that.”