Coach gutsy as Cedars brace for Saudi Arabia
Criticized for tactics against Qatar, Radulovic aims to be ‘disciplined’ from start
BEIRUT: Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic urged his players to put their Asian Cup opener against Qatar behind them as the Cedars gear up for a daunting clash with regional juggernaut Saudi Arabia.
Lebanon suffered a sobering 2-0 defeat to would-be World Cup hosts Qatar Wednesday, with Radulovic’s tactics the source of much consternation among Cedars fans.
But the Montenegrin was defiant ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the five-time champions, who are riding high after a thumping 4-0 win over North Korea in Group E – the second biggest margin of victory, after Iran’s 5-0 win over Yemen.
“I told my players we have to forget what happened in the last game, and all our focus is for the next game,” he said at a news conference Friday. “Saudi Arabia, I respect this team because they are a top level team, a World Cup team even.”
“Players of Saudi Arabia have experience in big competitions like the World Cup and some play in Europe. They are very organized and have quality in each position.”
“It will be a very difficult game for us but I told my players during preparation that to achieve a good result, we need to think positively.”
Lebanon, who have yet to register a win at the Asian Cup, are making just their second appearance at the quadrennial event since hosting the tournament in 2000.
“Maybe we don’t have experience in such a competition and maybe we lost some concentration and were unlucky against Qatar, but now I hope it will be totally different from the start,” Radulovic said.
“I hope tomorrow we will be serious and disciplined from the first minute until the end of the game.
“It will be difficult but everything is possible. I repeat, I respect Saudi Arabia but I respect my team, and I believe in the character and quality of my players. There’s still two games, everything is open and we are going game-by-game.”
Lebanon suffered a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their first Asian Cup game.