in Qatar, Hervé Renard’s Saudi Arabia wants to recreate the feat

What’s after this announcement

For several years, Saudi Arabia has been trying more than ever to develop its football. The objective is clear: to be a must in the Asian continent and to remain the leader of football in the Gulf countries. If the Saudi championship is already very attractive, the selection is also trying to take a step forward by regularly participating in the World Cup, but also by training quality players. So inevitably, since the announcement in 2010 of awarding the World Cup to Qatar (Middle Eastern competitor), the Saudi federation has put everything in place so as not to look ridiculous during the competition. In 2018, during the World Cup in Russia, Saudi Arabia made a good showing with 4 points and those despite a 5-0 defeat in the opening match against the host country. So, to continue this momentum, the Green Faucons have decided to bet on a well-known coach in France: Hervé Renard.

The “white magician”, as he is nicknamed in the Old Continent, arrived in the shoes of a successful coach on the strength of his experiences in Africa and his qualification with Morocco for the 2018 World Cup. with a spoiled CAN 2019 with the Lions Atlas, Hervé Renard then agreed to take the reins of Saudi Arabia’s selection with the aim of participating in a new World Cup. His last dream. That’s what he managed to do as he qualified quite easily for his country, finishing first ahead of Japan or Australia in the third round (before him they finished first in the second round ahead of Uzbekistan). “We had a great campaign. I arrived at the mail in August 2019 and since then the players have given me complete satisfaction with their efforts. I have absolutely nothing against them. We qualified by beating teams like Japan and Australia, that’s nothing, but the biggest challenge is yet to come.he explained recently in an interview with FIFA.

An interesting young generation

To get results quickly, the former Morocco coach was given carte blanche and the Saudi federation gave him carte blanche. In addition to qualifying for the World Cup, Saudi Arabia has played in several competitions, including the Arab Cup last year in Qatar. In this competition that saw Youcef Belaili’s Algeria win, the teams present had to be made up only of local players or players from the Gulf countries since they were in the middle of the season in the European leagues. While this has necessarily had an impact on teams like Morocco or Algeria, it hasn’t been the case for Saudi Arabia as all players play in the local league. But in the desire to grow, Hervé Renard has decided to call only the U23s, thus leaving aside the more experienced players. However, the pace was too high as the team had exited the group stage with only one point. But it doesn’t matter, the main thing was elsewhere. These matches allowed the former Sochaux manager to identify new players for selection.

And it worked as the team can now count on young talents like Firas Al-Buraikan. The 22-year-old striker won the Under-23 Asian Cup last June with Saudi Arabia. Now he is a starter on the front line of the attack and could be an important asset to his team. And the new generation can be supported by more seasoned veterans who lived through 2018 like Salem Al Dawsari. Hervé Renard has not lacked praise for him. “Salem has plenty of experience at the top level in Asia and has won two of the last three AFC Champions Leagues with Al Hilal. Salem and Salman Al Faraj are among the Green Falcons’ two best players and have both been decisive for their club in the Champions League. I told them that I would like to see them in the same level of form on the international stage where the stakes are completely different. They will have to prepare as best they can to help the team achieve the best possible results.”

Positive results

To advance the selection quickly, Hervé Renard focused for several months on the Saudi championship. Practical when you know that 100% of his workforce plays in this league. The French coach immediately understood that he had to rely on the managers of the big Saudi clubs like Al Nassr or Ittihad who are very competitive on the Asian continent. “The advantage is that it gives me the possibility to follow the whole Saudi season and watch every match. We are seven people in the technical directorate and we travel all over the country to attend every meeting. Maybe one day there will really be a need for Saudi players to play abroad, which would suit me very well, to compete at a higher level, for example in the league of champions. But at the moment I take that as an advantage, even if it also means that we lack a bit of experience against more competitive teams like you find in Europe.admitted for FIFA.

And for now we can say that his work is paying off. Pretty good too. The Saudi lineup has never looked so solid collectively. The numbers speak for themselves. Since he took office, Hervé Renard has played 32 games for just 5 small defeats (W16, D11). In their last World Cup preparation match, Saudi Arabia lost 1-0 against Croatia, but they produced a very interesting match. Before that, the Green Falcons went 6 games without a loss. Altogether only Colombia, Japan and Venezuela managed to bring down the gang of Hervé Renard. The result of a long work with the help also of Nasser Larguet. A former DTN of Morocco under Hervé Renard, he had left his post as director of the OM training center to take over the leadership of the Saudi project a year ago. So far, he’s paying off. Which therefore allow you to dream during this World Cup even if the group will be lightened with Poland, Mexico and Argentina. But the former LOSC coach believes in it and wants to repeat the feat of 1994 (qualification in 8th place). “The time has come to restore the image of the national team by reaching the knockout stage of a World Cup again. It last happened in the 90s and our goal at the next World Cup and beyond is to do at least as well. (…) Even if we are in a difficult group, we have to be ambitious. Without ambition, there is no need to go to the World Cup. We will have to go further, believe in our possibilities and try to reach our limits. First answer this Tuesday at 11 against Argentina.

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