Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

On the Up after Beating

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

On the Up after Beating

Article excerpt

In anyone's book, an 8-0 defeat is hugely embarrassing.

In the context of the World Cup finals, where the best 32 teams on the planet meet, it represents utter humiliation.

It is from this lowest of ebbs that Saudi Arabia have had to rise.

The last four years have been a time of rebuilding for the Saudis, who left Japan and South Korea without a point, a goal or much credibility.

Gabriel Calderon, hired in late 2004, saw the team across the finishing line in 2006, qualifying with aplomb.

They ended up scoring 24 and conceding just two in 12 qualifying matches, topping a group that contained 2002 semi-finalists South Korea.

The team has potential in a number of areas, and defensively there are a number of outstanding individuals.

Centre-back Hamad Al Montashari is the current Asian Player of the Year and behind him is Mabrouk Zaid, who has displaced the legendary shot-stopper Mohammed Al Daeyea.

Half the team is drawn from Saudi champions Al Hilal, the other half from Al Ittihad, and the experience gleaned from the Tigers' two successive AFC Champions League wins plus exposure at the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship can only help at international level. …

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