(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
#qatar 2022 #world cup teams The Peninsula
Doha: Following a memorable win over Lionel Messi-led Argentina, the Harve Renard-coached Asian side will take on Poland as they look to book a place in the Last 16 for the first time since their debut in 1994.
At 51st in the world, Saudi Arabia are the second lowest ranked team at the finals, pulled off one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history on Tuesday by beating Argentina, one of the tournament favourites, 2-1.
'The only good thing at the end of this stage is to finish number one or two, so whatever happens, the most important thing is to be qualified for the next round,' Renard said yesterday.
'At the moment we are concentrating and nothing changes. We are still the lowest team in the group in terms of FIFA ranking and experience.'
'Nothing changes in our mind. We know where we're coming from and we're keeping our humility. We know without that we won't be able to play a very good game tomorrow.'
Saudi Arabia, the surprise leaders in Group C, will be captained by Salem Al Dawsari when they meet Poland today after head coach Herve Renard revealed Salman Al Faraj is unlikely to feature again during the Finals.
The Al Hilal midfielder was injured late in the first half of his side's shock 2-1 win over Argentina in their previous game at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday and will be one of two changes forced upon the French coach after the opening clash.
Yasser Al Shahrani has also been ruled out after returning to Riyadh in the hours following the Argentina game for surgery to both his pancreas and face as a result of a sickening clash with goalkeeper Mohammad Al Owais late in the first match.
“For tomorrow's game for sure he won't be there,” Renard said regarding Al Faraj.“I think it will be even difficult for him to play some more games in this World Cup tournament.
“Unfortunately for us it's our leader and our captain and a very good player for us and Al Hilal. Like Yasser Al Shahrani, they were always in our first XI so it's a big loss. It happens for players at this World Cup. Yesterday it happened to Neymar…this is part of football.
“We have to manage without them. We will have Salem Al Dawsari as captain. He's a very good player, he will be a very good captain again. We have to continue our dream, this is the most important tomorrow.”
Saudi Arabia lead the early standings in the group by two points from Poland and Mexico, who shared a 0-0 draw in the opening round of matches, with the Argentinians bottom of the table.
Despite his side's impressive start, Renard will look to ensure his players remain level-headed going into the meeting with Czeslaw Michniewicz's outfit.
“The only good thing at the end of this group stage is to finish number one or number two, so whatever happens the most important is to qualify for the next round,” he said.
“Nothing changed, we are still the lowest team in this group in terms of FIFA ranking, in terms of experience at the time I'm talking to you.
“Nothing has changed in our mind, nothing has changed about the favourite of this World Cup. We know where we come from, we keep our humility. If we lose our humility we won't be able to play a very good game tomorrow.”
Poland's Robert Lewandowski during a training session.
Meanwhile Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz said yesterday, adding that the team remains calm after their Mexico stalemate.
Lewandowski failed to break his tournament duck when his second-half penalty was saved in their opening 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday.
'I spoke to the whole team about the match against Mexico, including Robert Lewandowski,' Michniewicz told a news conference.
'Regarding the penalty kicks, nothing has changed - Robert is still designated as the first player to perform them.
'Of course, if there is such a chance, he will make the decision whether he will shoot or give the spot kick away to someone else. It's all up to him. He feels up to taking more penalties, nothing has changed here.'
The coach stressed that the Mexico draw, which left Poland second in Group C, is behind them and the team is calmly preparing for their game against surprise leaders Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
'We have clear heads because we have closed this subject,' Michniewicz said. 'We don't succumb to pressure, whether someone would like us to play with one lineup or another.
'We know what we can do better, what we need to do better, and what worked well. Then the result is always an open question.'
When: Today at 4:00pm
Where: Education City Stadium (Capacity: 44,6670)
* Saudi Arabia's 2-1 victory over Argentina on Tuesday was the biggest shock in World Cup history, according to Nielsen Gracenote. The data company said the 51st-ranked Saudis' chances of winning the game was just 8.7%
* Poland and Saudi Arabia both had less than 40% possession in their Group C openers. Poland had 39% in their 0-0 draw with Mexico and Saudi Arabia 31% against Argentina
* Poland played in their first World Cup in 1938 but had to wait 36 years for their next appearance, when they finished third. They have now played at the finals nine times
* Saudi Arabia did not take part in World Cup qualifying until the late 1970s but reached the last 16 on their debut in 1994.
The two teams have met in friendlies in Saudi Arabia four times with Poland winning all of them.