Green Fal­cons coach kicks off ten­ure with 3-0 Moldova vic­tory

Arab News - - SPORTS - WAEL JABIR Ara­bia:

DUBAI: Juan An­to­nio Pizzi be­lieves Saudi Ara­bia are in good shape as they ap­proach the end of the sec­ond phase of their World Cup preparations.

The Green Fal­cons have been in Jed­dah for the past week in a train­ing camp that cul­mi­nated in a 3-0 friendly vic­tory over Moldova at King Ab­dul­lah Sport City Sta­dium in Jed­dah on Mon­day night.

Goals from Omar Haw­sawi and Taisir Al-Jas­sim had put Saudi Ara­bia in the driv­ing seat by the hour mark, be­fore a late strike from sub­sti­tute Mo­han­nad As­siri sealed vic­tory for Pizzi in what was his first game in charge since re­plac­ing Ed­guardo Bauza.

“We achieved our ob­jec­tives in play­ing with or­ga­ni­za­tion and co­her­ence in ad­di­tion to get­ting a good re­sult against Moldova,” said Pizzi. “The train­ing camp de­liv­ered great tech­ni­cal ben­e­fits which will serve us fur­ther along the road, and the per­for­mance against Moldova was a tes­ta­ment to that.”

Pizzi fielded his best avail­able side. In the ab­sence of in­jured Nawaf Al-Abed and trio Fa­had Al-Muwal­lad, Salem Al-Dawsari and Yahya Al-Shehri, who are all tied up with their re­spec­tive clubs in Spain, Pizzi handed in­ter­na­tional de­buts to winger Mo­hammed Al-Kuwaikbi and play­maker Ab­dul­wa­hab Jaa­far who both came off the bench at half­time.

Al-Kuwaikbi marked his de­but with an as­sist, sup­ply­ing a sub­lime through pass for As­siri’s goal, Saudi’s third of the evening.

The 88th-minute goal was As­siri’s first for the Green Fal­cons in more than seven years. He last found the back of the net in the na­tional team colors at the 2010 Gulf Cup, scor­ing his side’s third goal as Saudi Ara­bia beat the hosts Ye­men 4-0. The Al-Ahli man came on for Mo­hammed Al-Sahlawi on 81 min­utes on Mon­day and made his case for lead­ing the line for the Green Fal­cons in Rus­sia.

“I was given the chance, and I am happy to take it,” he said. “Now, I just have to work hard and show my worth. The World Cup is every player’s dream, and my ob­jec­tive is to be in the team in Rus­sia. I am hope­ful that I can rep­re­sent Saudi Ara­bia in the best pos­si­ble way in the World Cup.”

A no­table fea­ture of the game was the team’s at­tack­ing dis­play, a com­plete de­par­ture from for­mer coach Edgardo Bauza’s meth­ods which saw the team score just twice in their last 270 min­utes un­der their pre­vi­ous coach. On Mon­day, the Green Fal­cons dom­i­nated from start to fin­ish, en­joy­ing 72 per­cent of the pos­ses­sion and reg­is­ter­ing 18 shots to Moldova’s six.

Haw­sawi blasted the ball into the roof of the net just 10 min­utes into the game to fire Saudi in front af­ter the Moldovan de­fense failed to clear Al-Jas­sim’s cor­ner kick.

Al-Jas­sim went from ar­chi­tect to ex­e­cu­tioner 10 min­utes af­ter half-time, dou­bling Saudi Ara­bia’s lead when he col­lected a pass from Al-Sahlawi and buried it into the bot­tom cor­ner from 25 yards out.

The clos­est the vis­i­tors came to scor­ing was on 65 min­utes when Vladimir Am­bros out­mus­cled Haw­sawi in­side the box and un­leashed a left-footed ef­fort from a close range, but goal­keeper Mo­hammed Al-Owais was well po­si­tioned to parry the strike away.

Al-Sahlawi saw a 74th-minute header from Yasser Al-Shahrani’s cross saved by Serghei Pas­cenco and that was to be the Al-Nassr man’s last ac­tion. His re­place­ment, As­siri, took just seven min­utes to make his mark, com­bin­ing with Al-Kuwaikbi be­fore dink­ing in his fourth in­ter­na­tional goal and his first in more than seven years.

The Green Fal­cons are back in ac­tion on Wed­nes­day when they take largely a sec­ond-string team to play Iraq in Basra.

Saudi Mo­hammed Al-Owais; Yasser Al-Shahrani, Osama Haw­sawi (Mo­taz Haw­sawi 69), Omar Haw­sawi, Man­sour Al-Harbi; Ab­dul­ma­lik Al-Khaibari (Ibrahim Ghaleb 46), Ab­dul­lah Otayf, Hus­sein Al-Mo­qahwi (Mo­hammed Kanno 46), Taisir Al-Jas­sim (Ab­dul­wa­hab Jaa­far 75), Sal­man Al-Moasher (Mo­hammed Al-Kuwaikbi 46); Mo­hammed Al-Sahlawi (Mo­han­nad As­siri 81)

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