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AFC Asian Cup 2019: Pizzi happy to see Saudi start on a winning note

Juan Antonio Pizzi

Dubai, January 9: Saudi Arabia's coach Juan Antonio Pizzi was more than satisfied with his side's performance in their 4-0 win over North Korea in their AFC Asian Cup 2019 Group E opener, attributing the convincing victory to their play style.

"We are so happy to start the tournament this way and to win this game, especially with the number of goals we scored," said Pizzi.

"What was most important was that we implemented our own style of play today. We will follow the same ambition for the coming matches."

Two goals in each half from four different goalscorers sealed Saudi Arabia the three points ahead of matches against Lebanon and Qatar who will face off on Wednesday.

"I'm personally very happy because normally the first game of the tournament there are nervous moments, especially when we knew Australia lost their opening game, and we didn't want that to happen to us.

"I'm so happy and, hopefully, we will continue with the same level throughout the tournament."

Pizzi took charge of the Green Falcons in late 2017, with the aim of guiding the West Asians in the 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign.

While he admits his team have to improve offensively, the 50-year-old Spaniard was also quick to hail his players determination to excel since Russia 2018.

"There is no doubt that the time that you spend with a team allows you to gain confidence of the players, but we also noticed our players are ready to learn and ready to do what we ask as technical staff."

"The have a high commitment, even the new players, and day after day, they became more consistent.

"After our first loss in the World Cup in 2018, I think the team understood perfectly that they had to do everything, to be organised, to obey orders in order to be a better team.

"It is possible that we might lose against other opponents, but the most important thing is that this is the plan we will follow into the next phase."

As for North Korea, the defeat was a repeat of their 2015 AFC Asian Cup campaign in Melbourne, where they lost 1-4 to the Saudis.

While the East Asians have yet to secure a win in the continental showpiece since 1980, head coach Kim Yong-jun is aiming take it step-by-step, beginning with their backline.

"I never expected that we would make so many mistakes in our defence," Kim admitted.

(Source: AFC)

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Story first published: Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 12:22 [IST]
Other articles published on Jan 9, 2019
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