Aalborg Danes beat Saudis in Al-Wehda in 2021 IHF Men’s Super Globe quarter-finals
Hervé Renard confident fans’ return will strengthen Saudi squad in World Cup qualifying
DJEDDAH: Hervé Renard, coach of the Saudi national football team, is delighted with the return of the supporters for his team’s qualifying match against Japan at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium on Thursday evening, and the boost he thinks that players will get from the crowd.
He added that he was not too concerned about members of his team who are not available for the game due to injury.
“It’s a very important game for us and our motivation is stronger with the presence of our 60,000 fans,” said the Frenchman on Wednesday evening. “I’m not worried about tomorrow’s game despite the loss of two of our best players, but we have to deal with it with our good team and our spirit.
“We are proud of our participation and presence at this stage, where we are currently second in our group, and have not lost in seven games.”
Saudi Arabia only trails Australia on goal difference at the top of Group B in the third round of the Asian qualifiers, having won their first matches against Vietnam (3-1) and Oman (1-0).
Renard has said he wants to keep that momentum going with a win over opponents who will be eager to regain some ground after a shock loss to Oman in Tokyo last month.
“We are well prepared for the game against Japan,” he said. “I hope the players can play this game as a final and deliver their best performance. There is no doubt that Japan are the best team in Asia, and I hope the whole team will have the courage to challenge this powerful opponent.
He also noted that Saudi Arabia’s previous successes against Japan in Jeddah will not affect the outcome.
“No, it’s totally different and we have to take it seriously in a different way,” he said. “My main goal is not to win a game but to reach the 2022 World Cup.”
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu says his players are ready for the game and expects it to be a tough competition as Saudi Arabia remain one of the top teams in Asia. .
Speaking about the prospect of performing in front of 60,000 spectators, following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on crowd size during events in the Kingdom, he said: “We had been informed earlier that the capacity of the stage here will be around 60%. only, due to coronavirus restrictions, but yesterday we were told it would be 100 percent.
“We haven’t played in front of such a large number of spectators for a while but it won’t make any difference for our players. We are ready and hope it will be to our advantage.
He added that many of his squad play for teams from big European leagues and are therefore used to playing in front of large crowds.
A loss on Thursday would leave Japan facing an uphill battle in the qualifying group, but Moriyasu said he didn’t dwell on that thought: “Tomorrow’s game is very difficult but I never thought of losing. . We may lose but we will never give up (reaching the final in Qatar).
After the game against Japan, Saudi Arabia’s next World Cup qualifier will be against China, bottom of the group, on October 12 at the same venue.