Dubai: Saudi Arabia will be looking at yet another dominant performance as they face Lebanon in their second Group E match of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup at Al Nasr Club’s Maktoum Stadium on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia opened with a 4-0 romp against North Korea last Tuesday, and now coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is looking at maintaining his team’s tempo as they target an early qualification from the group that also contains strong contenders and regional opponents Qatar.
“We are quite ready to play Lebanon with the hope we will implement what we have planned against Lebanon. I trust in my players’ ability to deliver my plan. And at the same time I am sure our players will impose our style of play so that we have a positive result,” Pizzi told the customary prematch conference on Friday.
“All the games and opponents are tough as each of the participating teams have their own tactics and everyone wants to win. No one is here on a picnic or a holiday. The only way to beat Lebanon is to give off our best and we can do this by imposing our style of play,” he added.
Going back to 2008 in the qualifying rounds for the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa, Saudi Arabia have played Lebanon on three occasions. They won the home tie in Riyadh 4-1 and then did enough to clinch full away points with a 2-1 result five days later. The last time these two teams met in October 2014 was in a friendly that resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Lebanon started off with a 2-0 loss to Qatar last Wednesday and their coach Miodrag Radulovic was not worried with the outcome or overawed with the next task on hand against the Green Falcons. “Our loss in the last match [versus Qatar] came against a good, strong team that is in the process of building up towards the 2022 Fifa World Cup as hosts,” Radulovic said.
“Over a period of time we have worked on getting better as a team with each experience. At some point we have put it in the minds of our players that they are no less better. I am confident that the players will go out on the pitch and prove themselves,” he added.