Saudi Arabia aim to bounce back against Japan
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi gives instructions to his players during the Group E game against Qatar. (AFP)
Abu Dhabi - The Saudis will now face Japan in the Round of 16 in Sharjah on Monday
By Ashwani Kumar
Published: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 9:55 PM
Last updated: Fri 18 Jan 2019, 11:57 PM
Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is happy with his players' performance against Qatar in the final group game of the AFC Asian Cup.
The 'Green Falcons' dominated the game but ended up losing 2-0 due to a few mistakes in the backline. The Saudis will now face Japan in the Round of 16 in Sharjah on Monday and hope to right the wrongs.
"Actually, I am thinking about the next game against Japan only now. Despite the loss, there were many positives from this game. Personally I am happy with many individual performances of players. I respect all our opponents. I don't see any team as superior or inferior to us. We will try to implement our game plan against Japan. We will correct the mistakes made in this game," he said referring to defensive errors.
He said the final group game was a 'complicated' one.
"We tried to impose our style of play. We played well in the first half and controlled the game. We created chances but couldn't score. We lacked bite with our final touch and didn't show determination. But then we made mistakes that resulted in those two goals. We tried to dominate in the midfield play but it was difficult to sustain it for 90 minutes."
Pizzi denied that he had deployed a defensive approach resulting in the team finishing second in their group.
"We tried as much as we can to go forward. We tried to be the table toppers. We didn't play to defend. Especially in the second half, we conceded more space to them. I am unhappy with the result but we have to hide our feelings. We have to recover and play good game against Japan," the Argentinian added.
Meanwhile, Qatar coach Felix Sanchez praised his players' big effort to get the positive result.
"Saudi Arabia are a tough team. We showed great team spirit and played a complete game. We knew it was going to be a tough game and had put in lot of hard work. This result gives us confidence for the next game against Iraq. But we don't consider ourselves favourites. The three wins we have mean nothing as in the next round you can be out with just one match," the Qatar national team coach said.
Qatar finished top of the group and next play Iraq at Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday.
"Our next opponents are one of the strongest in the competition. It's not that we would prefer to play Iraq rather than someone else as we always play to win the group. We will have to perform well to compete against a well-organised team like Iraq who have got talented players," Sanchez added.