Found a nice Saudi article at

Discussion in 'Asian Football Confederation' started by DemmahoM, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. DemmahoM

    DemmahoM Member

    Apr 1, 2005
    New Haven CT
    Saudis Look To Banish German Demons

    Saudi Arabia is ready for Germany
    As qualification for the 2004 World Cup was achieved with a straightforward 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan on June 8th in Riyadh, thoughts turned swiftly to Germany 2006. There was little in the way of celebration just a steely determination to prove to the world that Saudi Arabia are a force to be reckoned with.

    The Saudis are one of Asia’s top teams. Only South Korea has qualified for more World Cups, only the two Koreas have been further than the middle-easterners in the competition and no nation has lifted more Asian Cups.

    Yet despite being a traditional regional powerhouse, ‘The Sons of the Desert’ are not as well known around the world as Japan, Iran or South Korea.

    The Saudis burst onto the world scene in style in the 1994 World Cup. It was the first time that the nation had reached the competition and they found themselves in a tough group with perennially fancied Holland, an effective Belgium side and Morocco.

    A World Cup baptism of fire greeted the Asians with an opening game in the sweltering midday June heat of Washington DC but the new boys shocked the experienced Dutch by taking a 19th minute lead. Although the two-time world runners-up eventually triumphed 2-1, the result was an encouraging one for Jorge Solari’s team.

    In the second game, the North Africans were defeated 2-1, setting up a crucial clash with the Belgians. In the fifth minute Saeed Owairan scored one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup as he skipped past what seemed like the entire Belgian team before slotting the ball past Preud’homme in the Belgian net. The goal was a worthy way to send an Asian team into the knockout stage of the showpiece event for only the second time in history.

    The reward for such as strike was a wealth of corporate deals for the player but the team had to face a Sweden side that was on its way to third place and the Scandinavians, with Brolin and Dahlin at their peak, were too strong for the Saudis but the team returned home with its head held high and the promise of more to come.

    The winning of the Asian Cup for the third time two years later confirmed the west Asians as the continent’s top side and they travelled to France in 1998 full of confidence. Unfortunately, the presence of hosts and eventual champions France and a tricky Denmark team left Saudi Arabia up against it.

    A header from Danish defender Marc Reiper condemned them to an opening game and unlike four years earlier, there was no coming back as France scored four goals without reply in the second game. A 2-2 draw with South Africa left the team heading back to Riyadh disappointed but not disgraced.

    A third straight qualification was achieved but only just, as Iran blew it at the last round, leaving the Saudis to sneak in and claim a place at the first ever World Cup to be held in Asia. Despite sharing a continent with South Korea and Japan, the Saudis gained no advantage as Sapporo was a good deal farther from Riyadh than Paris.

    Again a group containing Germany, Ireland and a talented Cameroon outfit looked difficult but nobody, not even coach Nasser Al-Johar, in his second spell in charge, had an inkling of the impending ignominy.

    A shock could have been on cards against a German team that seemed to be a shadow of former sides but legendary Saudi Keeper Mohammed Al-Deayea had to pick the ball out of his net eight times during a torrid ninety minutes. The Saudis have traditionally been an athletic team but were physically swept aside by the Europeans on a terrible night for Asian football.

    The subsequent games barely improved with a further four goals conceded and none scored. This time, the Asian giants went home humiliated and had to watch on television as continental rivals Japan and South Korea took the competition by storm.

    Results for the last three years have been mixed; a first round exit at July 2004’s Asian Cup prompted the sacking of Al-Johar’s successor, Dutchman Gerard Van Der Lem. In the two years that Van Der Lem had been in charge, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation decided that Al-Johar should be given another chance and reappointed him.

    The received wisdom in football is that a coach should never go back, should never return to the scene of a past success. Returning to a past failure is usually not an option in the unforgiving world of football. Yet return the Saudi-born coach did and his third reign ended in similar circumstances to his previous spell and he was shown the door after a poor showing in the Middle-East’s regional competition, the Gulf Cup, in December 2004. The fact that Al-Johar was the 14th coach to be sacked by the Saudi Football Federation since the 1994 suggests that instability at the top could be the reason why the team has never returned to the heights it reached over a decade ago.

    To replace the unfortunate Al-Johar, the SAFF switched their gaze from Europe to a more distant shore, South America. Gabriel Calderon knows a thing or two about World Cups as he appeared in the final of the 1990 tournament for his native Argentina in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of West Germany.

    Despite lacking extensive coaching experience, the former Real Betis and Paris St. Germain defender efficiently steered his new bosses to a fourth straight World Cup appearance-only the issue of which team finishes on top of the group is still to be decided on August 17th on the visit to Seoul.

    It’s early days in this corner of the middle-east but the Argentine looks to be exactly the kind of coach who can restore Saudi Arabia’s international reputation and, along with talented emerging stars such as Yasser Al-Qahtani and Hamad Al Montashari, Suadi Arabia is ready to show the rest of the world what Asia knows it is capable of.

  2. Saudi64

    Saudi64 Member

    Apr 28, 2004
    Riyadh KSA
    Al Shabab Riyadh
    Nat'l Team:
    Saudi Arabia
    Naser AlJohar wasnt a permanent coach, he was a temporary and was just placed for a couple of months while they look for a coach. Anyways, nice article.
  3. hanul21

    hanul21 Guest

    nice article!

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