(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
#Arab Cup 2021
Doha: New-look Saudi Arabia are hoping to excel in Qatar as they are set to begin their FIFA Arab Cup campaign with a Group C match against Jordan at the Education City Stadium today.
The Saudi Arabian team – one of the football giants in the Arab world – are fielding a young side in the event as apart from two 24-year-old goalkeepers, none of the players in squad who have to come Qatar are born before 1999.
They have rested main team players – including Salman Al Faraj and Salem Al-Dawsari after a busy schedule this year.
Head coach Herve Renard is also not accompanying the side but his assistant Laurent Bonadei is hopeful of a good performance from the young side in the opener.
“There is no doubt it will be a difficult match against Jordan. But we have exciting young players in our squad, who have developed in the strong Saudi league and are capable of putting in good performances,” Bonadei told a press conference yesterday.
“I am happy and honoured to take over this group of players. Even if we will be one of the youngest team we will do our best and fight with ambition and determination,” the Frenchman added.
Bonadei a felt a victory today would go a long way in calming the nerves in the camp and help them progress to the quarter-finals from Group C, which also consists of Morocco and Palestine.
“Performance in the opening match is key for our knockout hopes. If we can win tomorrow, then it will set us up nice for rest of the tournament. We know the Jordan team well as we have watched their previous matches. We have gone through good preparation and we know what we have to do tomorrow,” the Saudi coach said.
“We will give everything we have to reach our goal and we are looking forward to the challenge and I am looking forward to the opportunity,” he added.
After taking on Jordan today, Saudi Arabia go up against Palestine three days later and Morocco, who are also bringing in A team with many of their star players playing at top European clubs.
Meanwhile, Jordan coach Adnan Hamad said he is wary of a young Saudi side.
“They have some good players and deserve respect, despite the absences of main players. The Jordanian team had previously participated in the Arab tournament here in Doha several years ago in the reserve team and reached the final despite the absence of many names from the young players in that,” the coach said.“So we can't take Saudi team lightly. But I have great confidence in my team through and we are ready for the tournament. It would be a good start if we can get three points against Saudi,” he added.
Also in Group C, Morocco will take on Palestine at Al Janoub Stadium today.
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