- Saad Al-Shehri hoping to hit new heights with Saudi Arabia
- The coach led the Saudis to the final 16 at U-20 World Cup in 2017
- Country hoping to lastly win a recreation on the Olympics
Despite being comparatively younger, Saad Al-Shehri has emerged as one of many main Saudi coaches of the previous few years, having fun with notable successes with youth groups at a variety of golf equipment in addition to main Saudi Arabia to the final 16 on the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017.
Al-Shehri was a midfielder of appreciable promise when he turned professional within the late ‘90s, even representing Saudi Arabia on the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999. However, critical pelvic and cruciate ligament accidents introduced a untimely finish to his taking part in days in 2008 on the age of simply 28.
Determined to proceed within the recreation, he launched into a training profession that noticed him handle age-class sides at Saudi golf equipment Al Qadsiah, Al-Nassr, and Al-Ettifaq golf equipment earlier than main the nationwide group to the AFC U-19 Championship closing and the Arabian Gulf Cup title in 2016, a yr earlier than the aforementioned achievement at Korea Republic 2017.
The 41-yr-outdated is now making ready for his newest problem in July, when he hopes the nation’s U-23s can carry out nicely on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Al-Shehri is assured his gamers can go far on the match. “We’re determined to perform honourably even though we’ll be facing difficult teams,” he stated after the draw at FIFA headquarters in Zurich final month.
“The draw didn’t come as a surprise, as we knew that things would be difficult. The Olympics is a global arena where world-class teams with huge capabilities and lofty ambitions compete.”
With the draw putting the Saudis in the identical group as Germany and Brazil, who confronted off within the Rio 2016 closing, and present African runners-up Côte d’Ivoire, Al-Shehri‘s mission won’t be simple.
The Greens’ first fixture is in opposition to the Ivorians, a group Al-Shehri insists should not be taken flippantly, regardless of being assured that his costs have what it takes to win their opening recreation.
“All our fixtures on the match might be tough. We mustn’t underestimate Côte d’Ivoire, an impressive group who will make issues tough for us. African groups at all times do nicely on the Olympics and infrequently attain the ultimate phases.
“We’ve played against several African teams, and they rely heavily on their physical strength. But we’re ready for this game. All three teams we’ve been grouped with were runners-up in their continental championships, so we’re expecting tough matches. We may not all have the same experience, but the beauty of football is its ability to surprise,” he added.
Saudi Arabia’s Tokyo 2020 fixtures
Thursday 22 July 2021
- Cote d’Ivoire-Saudi Arabia, International Stadium Yokohama, 20:30 native time
Sunday 25 July 2021
- Saudi Arabia-Germany, International Stadium Yokohama, 20:30 native time
Wednesday 28 July 2021
- Saudi Arabia-Brazil, Saitama Stadium, 17:00 native time
Third time fortunate?
Saudi Arabia’s debut on the Olympic Football Tournament got here within the 1984 Los Angeles version, whereas their second adopted 12 years later in Atlanta. On each events, the group left empty handed, and not using a win or perhaps a level from six video games.
Al-Shehri dearly hopes that their third try might be completely different, and he has set his aspect the duty of securing the nation’s maiden victory on the occasion and progressing from the group stage.
“We have lofty ambitions and the ability to advance. We’re now among the 16 best U-23 teams in the world. We’ll be trying to finish as one of the best eight Olympic teams and, why not, secure a medal. I believe that’s a legitimate aspiration.”