Saudi Arabia not afraid of playing attacking football

 

Saudi Arabia not afraid of playing attacking football
Saudi Arabia's coach Juan Antonio Pizzi speaks to his players during the tie against Qatar.

Sharjah - The Saudis have won only one of their six clashes against the four-time champions

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 9:13 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Jan 2019, 11:25 PM

Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Argentina-born former Spain international striker who had a prolific goal-scoring record in La Liga in the 1990s, says his Saudi Arabian team are not afraid of playing attacking football against Japan in their Round of 16 clash at the Sharjah Stadium on Monday.
The Saudis have won only one of their six clashes against the four-time champions in the AFC Asian Cup. But Pizzi's team have what it takes to win do-or-die clashes.
Saudi Arabia, which lost their final group game to Qatar 2-0 despite dominating their opponents, had beaten Japan in their crunch 2018 World Cup qualifying game to earn a ticket to Russia.
"I know the history of the two teams. Japan have a strong team. But we will continue with our style. We will continue to keep the ball and press for goals," Pizzi said at the press conference on Sunday.
The 50-year-old coach says his team have already put the defeat in the last group game behind them.
"That game is in the past now. Now we have Japan in front of us. This game will be a matter of life and death because the team that will lose will be sent home. And I am happy that all my players are ready for this big match tomorrow," he said.
The Saudis have reached the Asian Cup final on each of the previous six occasions that they have gone past the group stages.
"Tomorrow we have a 50 per cent chance to win. If win, we will again have a 50 per cent chance to win the next game," Pizzi said.
"But tomorrow, we will be playing against probably the biggest candidate for the Asian Cup title. Their players have experience and quality. We know that it will be a difficult game."
Pizzi backed his team, though, to surprise Japan - a team that have 13 Europe-based players.
"Japan were the only team from Asia that reached the Round of 16 in the World Cup last year. Don't forget they will field almost all the players tomorrow that played in the World Cup. But that doesn't mean that I am not trusting my players. I am confident that we will play a good game and try to win," he said.
Meanwhile, Yahya Alshehri, the Saudi winger, asked his team not to make mistakes against a strong Japan team.
"We can't make mistakes against Japan. If you make mistakes against them, they will make you pay. So we have to reduce the mistakes and try to play our best game to win," he said.
rituraj@khaleejtimes.com


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