Five things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s victory over Jamaica

Five things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s victory over Jamaica
The Saudi national football team. (SPA file photo)
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Updated 16 November 2020

Five things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s victory over Jamaica

Five things we learned from Saudi Arabia’s victory over Jamaica
  • Before this 3-0 win, Herve Renard’s team had not played in 2020 due to disruptions brought about by the coronavirus crisis

Saudi Arabia returned to the international stage with an excellent 3-0 friendly win over Jamaica at King Abdullah Sports City stadium. Here are five things we learned from the match:

Squad get-togethers essential before World Cup qualifiers

The value of training together was shown by both teams, though in very different ways. Herve Renard’s team had not played this year due to the onset of the pandemic. This match and another against Jamaica this week are the last opportunities for the coach to work with his players before the World Cup qualifiers in March against Yemen and Singapore.

However, the Saudi squad had the luxury of a prolonged training camp, ensuring the newcomers had the chance to get used to the coach’s system.

“After being away for over 11 months, to have this result and performance is positive,” Hussein Al-Sadiq, general manager of the Saudi team, said.

Jamaica’s squad, on the other hand, had not met up since March and barely had time to prepare before landing in the Kingdom — and it showed.

Herve Renard’s system shows early promise

Noticeable throughout the match were Saudi’s energetic, high pressing tactics, something Renard is trying to instil into his team.

Salem Al-Dawsari and Mohammed Al-Kanoo successfully closed down their opponents, which ensured Saudi domination in midfield.

All three goals came about from pressure in the opposition’s defensive third. The first came from a penalty for handball — converted by Salem Al-Dawsari — after Saudi’s closing down had resulted in a free-kick. The second from Ayman Yahya punishing lax defending by Jamaica to find Saleh Al-Shehri, who finished confidently. Then a retreating Jamaica defence was all at sea as Al-Dawsari found Abdullah Al-Hamdan who produced a clever reverse pass that left Feras Al-Brikan, with an open goal.

The high pressing game is hard to maintain across 90 minutes, but this was a positive start.

Saudi defensive mistakes must be eradicated

The Saudi team was guilty of glaring errors in defence, holding on to the ball for too long, executing reckless tackles or allowing the high line to be exploited.

After falling behind Jamaica improved noticeably, with Norman Campbell in particular giving the Saudi defence trouble down the left wing, which led to midfielder Abdulellah Al-Malki getting booked for a rash challenge.

Jamaica’s best chance of the first half came after Sultan Al-Ghanam’s miscued clearance on 25 minutes but goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Yami produced a fine save.

Missing first team players and a lack of preparation time no doubt played a part in some of the errors and the early lack of understanding. However, Renard will be pleased to have kept a clean sheet.

Young Saudi players need more playing time

The lack of first team appearances at club level remains a concern for many of the younger Saudi players, who can find themselves behind high profile foreign superstars at their clubs.

Hussein Al-Sadiq believes this can be used to improve the standard of the home players.

“In the past, when there were more Saudi players in the league, managers had longer get-togethers with them,” he said. “These days you get a lot less time, and it’s confined to the FIFA schedules. Most clubs don’t want to let go of their players beyond those timings. We cannot ignore that but we should acknowledge that the presence of foreigners players has improved standards.”

Risk of injuries is rising after the coronavirus disruption

The early part of this match was scrappy with mistimed tackles leading to too many stoppages, injuries and yellow cards. The lack of preparation resulting from the pandemic hasn’t helped, and the rescheduling of many competitions and matches into a shorter period of time is putting greater physical demands on the players.

By the end of the match, several players were feeling the effects of playing in a new high-energy system against physically strong opponents, with Al-Hamdan, Al-Dawsari and Ayman Yahya all on the injured list by the final whistle.


Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Updated 04 December 2020

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn
  • The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime,
  • Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay

TOKYO: The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting the massive event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.
But more spending, on top of the previous budget of about $13 billion, could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or canceled together.
“Whether it’s seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.
“We have done all we can to earn the public’s understanding,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900 million in spending on coronavirus countermeasures.
The dollar figures are calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and the total is around $2.56 billion at today’s rate. The costs look set to rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it would also release an additional $250 million in “contingency” funds.

The new spending swells a budget that was set last year at around $13 billion, and will add to disquiet about the cost of the Games after an audit report last year argued the national government was spending significantly more than originally planned.
The extra costs will be split between Tokyo, the organizing committee and the national government. The International Olympic Committee will not be chipping in, but has agreed to waive its sponsor royalty fee for the first time, organizers said.
The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organizing committee staff.
And with organizers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.
Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control center in the Olympic Village.
Organizers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280 million in spending.
And on Thursday, they said 18 percent of Olympic tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.


Organizers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.
But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancelation.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.
“If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.
“There’s a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it.”
Tokyo 2020’s final price tag has been hotly disputed, with an audit report last year estimating the national government spent nearly 10 times its original budget between 2013-2018.
Organizers countered that the estimate included items not directly related to the Games.