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.


Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

Updated 22 February 2020

Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

  • The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS: Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder made one last appearance Friday before their big heavyweight title fight, weighing in and taunting each other before a raucous crowd at the MGM Grand arena.
Wilder weighed 231 pounds, the heaviest of his career, for his 11th title defense. Fury, meanwhile, tipped the scales at 273 pounds, just 3 pounds short of his heaviest ever, too, for Saturday night’s rematch.
The fighters jawed at each other from a distance after getting on the scales in the arena. Nevada boxing officials ruled they would not have a faceoff after pushing each other at the final press conference on Wednesday.
Thousands of fans, most of them supporting Fury, jammed the arena, waiting for several hours for the fighters to make their brief appearance on the scales. Though separated, the two fighters jawed at each other, much like they did at the press conference promoting the pay-per-view bout.
``I just told him, `24 hours, 24 hours,’’’ Wilder said. ``He’s nervous, nervous energy as always.’’
The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles. The fight is arguably the biggest heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis demolished Mike Tyson in 2002, and both fighters could make some $40 million if the pay-per-view sells well.

Wilder weighed in at 231 pounds. (AFP)

Fury weighed in 16.5 pounds heavier than the first fight, and just 3 pounds short of what he weighed in his first comeback fight in 2018 after being out of the ring with drug and alcohol problems. Wilder was also heavier than expected, weighing 18.5 pounds more than the first fight.
``The weight’s not a problem,’’ the 6-foot-9 Fury said. ``It’s 273 pounds of pure British beef.’’
A fight that promises intriguing matchups matches two fighters with claims to titles — Fury’s is the mythical lineal crown — in a rematch of their draw a little more than a year ago. In that fight, Fury dominated the boxing but Wilder knocked him down in the ninth and 12th rounds before the judges scored it a draw.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 knockouts) predicted in the weeks leading up to the fight he would weigh about 270 pounds. He said he added the weight because he intends to go after Wilder from the opening bell in the rematch to try and score an early knockout.
``At the end of the day, we’re heavyweights,’’ Wilder said. ``So it doesn’t really matter about the weight.’’
In addition to the weight, Fury will have to deal with the possibility of the cut suffered around his right eye in his last fight will reopen. He usually trains without headgear but used it for the rematch because of the 47 stitches it took to sew the cut up after his hard-fought win in September against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) is making the 11th defense of the crown he won in 2015, the same year Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to win a piece of the title. Fury didn’t fight for more than two years after that, giving up his crown as he descended into mental and drug problems and his weight ballooned to 375 pounds.