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Saudi's Renard not worried by goalkeepers' lack of playing time

Saudi's Renard not worried by goalkeepers' lack of playing time

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Saudi Arabia Press Conference - Main Media Center, Doha, Qatar - November 21, 2022 Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard during the press conference REUTERS/Albert Gea

Al RAYYAN, Qatar: Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard is not worried by two of the squad's goalkeepers' lack of playing time this season ahead of their match against Argentina in the World Cup on Tuesday (Nov 21).

"The goalkeeper who will play tomorrow's match has played 17 World Cup qualifiers so there is absolutely no problem," the Frenchman told a news conference on Monday.

Renard did not announce the name of the goalkeeper who will lead the Green Falcons' starting line-up, but Muhammad Al-Owais has played 42 times for the national team, compared to just seven internationals for Muhammad Al-Yami.

The third goalkeeper in the squad, Nawaf Al-Aqidi, is still waiting for his debut with the national team.

Renard also stood by his decision to exclude veteran custodian Abdullah Al-Mayouf, who announced his retirement in 2019 before reversing his decision and saying he was available for selection.

Renard kept his starting line-up close to his chest but said midfielder and team captain Salman Al-Faraj trained normally.

Footage from Monday's training showed Al-Faraj putting his hand on an injured shoulder that had kept him from training with the team for several days after returning to Saudi Arabia after facing Iceland.

The 54-year-old coach said his team is eager to start the tournament after fighting for the last two years to reach the finals.

"We enjoyed a good preparation period and all the players benefited from it. We look forward to presenting an honorable performance for Saudi Arabia," he said. "We did not come to Doha to enjoy the city."

Saudi midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki said: "We are not coming to the World Cup to just be in it. We are here to produce our best and make Saudi proud."

Saudi Arabia have never won their first game in a World Cup since they took part for the first time in 1994. Their best result was a 2-2 draw to Tunisia in 2006.

They got thrashed 5-0 by hosts Russia in the opening game of 2018 finals and were humiliated 8-0 against Germany in 2002.

Argentina and Saudi Arabia have played each other four times, with two draws and two victories for Argentina. Their last meeting ended 0-0 in a 2012 friendly.

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Source: Reuters


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