FIFA World Cup 2018: Saudi Arabia coach ashamed of 5-0 loss vs Russia

FIFA World Cup 2018: Saudi Arabia coach ashamed of 5-0 loss vs Russia

Saudi Arabia were absolutely hammered by Russia 5-0 on the opening night of the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Thursday in what was a record win for the hosts.

Saudi coach Juan Antonio Pizzi described the loss as a “feeling of shame” as Russia’s victory at the Luzhniki Stadium was the biggest win for a host nation since 1934.

As Russia made a dream start to the World Cup at home, courtesy Yury Gazinsky and Denis Cheryshev, Pizzi conceded that they actually did not have to make a huge effort against Saudi.

Despite the fact that Russia had a woeful run of form ahead of the World Cup while Saudi earned a respectable 2-1 loss to Germany last week, it was the home team that trumped a completely scattered Saudi Arabian team.


“The opposing team really didn’t have to make a huge effort to win this game,” he said after a one-sided showing that marked a dream start for the home team in front of a capacity crowd.

Russia’s 5-0 win against Saudi Arabia was the biggest win for a host nation in a World Cup opener since 1934. (AP Photo)

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

Yet given Saudi Arabia’s high turnover of coaches, including a previous mid-World Cup sacking, the Argentine-born Pizzi could well be on his way before he gets a chance to try and rectify the situation.


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

“The way I feel right now makes that a valid point but whatever happens I’ve got my philosophy and I’ll try to do as best I can. I trust in our plans and I trust in my players and I trust we’ll have a better performance in our next game,” he said at the post-match news conference.

Pizzi was appointed to the job after Saudi Arabia qualified last year for the finals. They inexplicably sacked Bert van Marwijk despite a successful campaign and then his successor Edgardo Bauza before the World Cup draw in November.

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Pizzi has been in charge for the last seven months and insisted the Saudis had shown much improvement since.

“This game should not be a point of reference. We didn’t play the way we planned to. It is left to us to be positive and start thinking about the next match,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s next Group A encounter is against Uruguay in Rostov on June 20.

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“I believe that we came into this tournament well prepared and the players were ready to show that they could play at the World Cup. We did not show today what we have done in our previous games,” Pizzi said.

Just a week ago, Saudi Arabia lost by a respectable 2-1 scoreline to Germany in their final warm-up game in Leverkusen.

But if past history is anything to go by, Pizzi could well become the next coaching casualty of this tournament if Saudi authorities react with the emotive anger displayed in the past.

Saudi Arabia fired Carlos Alberto Parreira after a 4-0 loss to hosts France in the group stages in 1998, even though four years earlier he had won the World Cup with his native Brazil.

(With Reuters inputs)

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