The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 14 July suffered a humiliating 0-5 loss to Team Russia, and sports minister Turki al-Sheikh has been criticized for his players’ below-average performance against the World Cup hosts.
Denis Cheryshev scored a brace for the Russians while his teammates – Yury Gazinskiy, Artem Dzyuba and Aleksandr Golovin – shared three three goals in the opening match played at Luzniki Stadium.
Fans of the Green Falcons slammed their team and sports director for not meeting Saudi Arabia’s 2018 World Cup goals even by a five-percent margin.
Turki al-Sheikh took to Twitter shortly after their loss to the Russians, acknowledging that Team Saudi Arabia fell short of expectations despite finishing second in AFC Group B qualifiers above Australia. He sees no hope of the Saudis going beyond their three group matches.
“We offered our best support to the team,” Al-Sheikh wrote.
“We’ve been covering all their expenses for three years,” he continued. “We hired the best coaching team and a world-class head coach for them, yet, they did not fulfil what was required of them even by five per cent.
“It is time to face reality…There isn’t much they can do. Their abilities and capabilities are like that.”
Al-Sheikh revealed plans to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s youth system by training around 1,000 teenagers aged 12-16 to create an improved national team.
Saudi Arabia is yet to play against Uruguay and Egypt.
Uruguay’s Gimenez scored the South Americans’ winning goal against the Egypt at the 90th minute today.
Image: Turki al-Sheikh