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2018 World Cup Guide: Group A: Saudi Arabia

Again on the World Cup for the primary time since 2006, we check out the Saudi Arabian aspect on its approach to Russia.

2018 World Cup Information: Group A: SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia used to qualify for World Cups as a matter after all, however failure to make 2010 and 2014 had followers determined to succeed in Russia. Led by Bert Van Marwijk, they did. Simply. There was some luck alongside the best way, however a last-day victory over an already certified Japan did the trick and put the Inexperienced Falcons above Australia on purpose distinction. But qualification was adopted by chaos, as Van Marwijk was changed by Edgardo Bauza – who then left himself. At the moment, former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken up the pinnacle teaching position.

Key Moments in Qualifying

Sep 2016
The opening recreation in opposition to Thailand in Riyadh was proving to be a irritating expertise till the softest of penalties six minutes from the tip allowed Nawaf Al Abed to safe the factors. 5 days later, the midfielder scores twice extra from the spot to provide the Saudis a come-from behind win in opposition to Iraq.
Oct 2016
With 11 minutes remaining, Van Marwijk’s males are trailing at house to Australia. Then Nasser Al Shamrani strikes to earn what is going to change into a significant level received.
Nov 2016
A 2-1 defeat in Japan prevents Saudi Arabia from breaking free on the prime of the group.
Sep 2017
Needing to beat Japan at house within the last recreation to qualify, winger Fahad Al Muwallad makes the second-half distinction and the 1-Zero victory is widely known wildly. However days later Van Marwijk broadcasts he’s leaving, with Edgardo Bauza changing him.
Nov 2017
After simply 5 video games in cost, Argentinian Bauza was sacked as Saudi coach.

The Coach

Juan Antonio Pizzi, age 49 (07.06.1968)
Even by Saudi requirements, the current teaching merry-go-round was surprising. Van Marwijk, who had been in place for 2 years and was constructing a strong staff, left simply days after the Russian deal was sealed. In got here Bauza, who had taken over the United Arab Emirates simply weeks beforehand. A month later, the Argentinian had additionally mentioned his goodbyes. Juan Antonio Pizzi, who lead Chile to the Copa America Centenario in 2016, has are available to fill the void.

Previous Success: Pizzi has had success with Chile, can he do the identical with Saudi Arabia in 2018? (Getty Pictures)

The Gamers
Stars
Nawaf Al Abed was cool and composed all through the ultimate stage, and he scores in addition to creates. When given the chance, Fahad Al Muwallad is thrilling.
Stalwarts
Osama Hawsawi has been within the centre of defence for a very long time – though some really feel for too lengthy.
Lacking
Nasser Al Shamrani was Asian Participant of the 12 months in 2014 however he began only one recreation in qualifying.
Debutants
Van Marwijk gave a primary call-up to right-back Mohammed Al Burayk and the 25-year-old carried out properly underneath stress.

Thrilling: Fahad Al Muwallad is thrilling when he will get on the ball (Getty Pictures)

The Unanswered Questions

What impact will the change of coaches have?
Shedding the skilled Bert Van Marwijk, who took his homeland to the 2010 Closing, was enormous. Not solely did he know the gamers, they knew him and his system. Edgardo Bauza barely had time to get to know the squad, however pleasant performances in opposition to Portugal and Bulgaria ended with a lot criticism and his departure proves that there are few seats as scorching as that of Saudi Arabia’s coach. Time will inform if Pizzi could be as efficient on this position as he had been with Chile.

Captain: At 33, will Hawsawi nonetheless have the legs to have the ability to compete? (Getty Pictures)

Is Osama Hawsawi as much as the job?
At 33, the centre-back and captain got here into the staff simply after the 2006 World Cup however his ageing legs have been exhibiting a little bit of late.

What about worldwide publicity?
All of the Saudis play at house and this can be a downside. There’s speak of some being loaned to European golf equipment, however that received’t be simple to rearrange.

2018 World Cup Guide: Group A: Russia

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