Saudi Crown Prince Travels to Russian Federation for Putin Talks

Toby Graves
June 18, 2018

Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi played down suggestions that his position is under threat after a 0-5 loss to Russian Federation in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup. His tactics might have been familiar, Cherchesov said, but the performance was tighter, more disciplined and more mature than his side had shown before.

"We have now to forget this feeling of shame and start thinking about the next match".

Quickly putting men behind the ball and making it hard for Saudi Arabia to penetrate through.

He conceded questions about his future after the heavy defeat were justified.

The mere fact of any home-grown player getting attention from overseas after years in which Russians have failed to tempt Europe's best clubs has sparked a local media frenzy as their World Cup gets under way and fans start to hope the national team may avoid the embarrassment many have long feared. Despite controlling the ball 59 percent of the match, Saudi Arabia didn't get a single shot on goal and pretty much quit defensively in the second half. They inexplicably sacked Bert van Marwijk despite a successful campaign and then his successor Edgardo Bauza before the World Cup draw in November. We didn't play the way we planned to.

"We haven't been kidding anybody", he said.

Saudi Arabia still have two more games against Luis Suarez's Uruguay or Mohamed Salah's Egypt in Group A.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted that sports should not be politicised, to which the head of Qatar's information office responded: "We'll see you in The Hague at the end of June. You just rest well and prepare for the next game, we're fine", said Varela, whose team has travelled one of the furthest distances for the World Cup.

Of the five teams participating in the championship from Asia in this edition of the World Cup, Saudi Arabia took on the host nation.

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