Saudi Arabia vs Argentina: Saudi has done the unthinkable, stunning two-time World Cup winners Argentina in their opening Group C game.
By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 22, 2022
Saudi Arabia vs Argentina… a huge upset
Saudi Arabia has done the unthinkable. They have stunned two-time World Cup winners Argentina in their opening Group C game. In the first 20 minutes, possession lay solely with Argentina with Saudi Arabia getting the occasional ball to pass around, which they quickly lost.
But for a keen soccer observer, one saw a strong defense and midfield. The forwards were not getting the ball. The goalkeeper, Mohammed Al-Owais, made it clear within the first 20 minutes that he had height, width, and flight.
Again, for a keen soccer observer, one noticed a ‘technically sound’ team. They were closing in on the gaps, and leaving the Lionel Messi squad caught off-side over half-a-dozen times in the first half. The Argentine strikers got smarter in the second half, not falling prey to the offside trap laid by their counterparts.
Saudi Arabia vs Argentina… two stunning goals
And then, three minutes into the second half, Saudi fans erupted inside the cauldron… the Lusail Stadium. The commentator was off his seat screaming, “They have had only one chance at goal and they have made it count.” Argentina, up to this time, had over four, but all were thwarted by the strong defense manned at the back by Al-Owais.
Saleh Al Shehri trapped and sliced an angular shot beneath a diving defender to beat goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez as the ball found the far right corner of the net.
Five minutes later, there was another stunner by Salem Al-Dawsari. Receiving a ball from the right, of a header, he set out to take four defenders in his stride on the inside left of the box (dancing like a magician) before finding the same corner, beating Martinez hands down. This was a goal that would have made Lionel Messi proud. But it was Messi at the receiving end. It had the stamp of class written all over it.
Argentina pressed on, but time and again they found the defenders too closely knit and whenever they did breach the defense, Al-Owais was flying all over, like Qatar Airways.
This was not Argentina’s night.
Clinical approach to soccer: The Dr. Romeo Jozak way
Those who have watched the technical play of the Green Falcons and who are aware that Dr. Romeo Jozak is the current Technical Director in the Ministry of the sport of Saudi Arabia will be able to relate to the style of play.
Dr. Jozak is the author of the book, Croatian Football Federation Development Curriculum. The book dwells on a clinical approach to soccer and the win by Saudi was everything ‘clinical’ and precise.
Dr. Jozak is also the former Technical Director of the Croatian Football Federation, Former SD of Dinamo Zagreb, UEFA Technical Instructor, and has a Ph.D. in Soccer Science. A soft-spoken man who never comes to the forefront, Dr. Jozak believes in letting his work do the talking. Public Relations, it appears, is a language alien to him. While the world sees Hervé Renard in the forefront, I’m sure the Saudi officials will be celebrating Dr. Jozak today evening.
Tough luck for Argentina— They will have to pull up their socks against Mexico and Poland. The Green Falcons have just taken flight and judging by the way they have played today, a place in the knock-out stage does not look like a dream anymore.
Goalkeepers clash with teammates
Two days in a row, goalkeepers have clashed with their teammates whilst effecting a save. Yesterday in the Iran vs England match, Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand clashed horribly with his teammate Hosseini Majid and had to be substituted after receiving treatment on the field for over eight minutes.
Today, as Al-Owais set out to deny Argentina the equalizer in extra time, his left knee made contact with Yasir Al Shahrani’s face. Both were horrible, accidental clashes.
Hoping both players recover in time for their next clash.