AFP

Saudi boss relaxed despite pressure

Saudi boss relaxed despite pressure
By Reuters

12/01/2011 at 20:30Updated 12/01/2011 at 21:00

New Saudi Arabia coach Nasser Al-Johar has turned to humour to mask the trouble the triple Asian champions find themselves in as he joked he was so relaxed he could handle the fortunes of three teams.

The shock 2-1 defeat by Syria in their opening Group B match at the Asian Cup on Sunday cost Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro his job immediately after the game and the Saudis turned to ever-reliable Al-Johar for the third time in a decade.

Asked at a news conference before Thursday's match against Jordan if he had been wearing dark glasses to hide his eyes after crying about the loss to Syria, he replied: "No, not at all, in fact, I am so relaxed I could coach three teams."

He was looking forward to reviving the team's fortunes in the match at the Al-Rayyan Stadium.

"I am no stranger to the players. I have taken over the team twice before in the past in worse situations and they know me very well," he said.

"I thought we played well in the first match, although we lost ... I don't feel any tension and I am not being diplomatic with my answer.

"I've been with the Saudi team for 10 years and you have to remember what happened in Lebanon in 2000 where we lost our first match, I took over and we reached the final.

"I don't have a magic wand but I am confident our results will improve."

Jordan's Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad saw his team come within two minutes of scoring a shock win over Japan that would have more than matched Syria's upset victory over the Saudis.

Jordan led towards the end of stoppage time before Japan scored in the dying seconds to force a 1-1 draw.

Hamad now believes Jordan can give the Saudis another fright on Thursday, even though they will be without their skipper Hatem Aqel who injured his knee against Japan and is probably out for the rest of the tournament.

"We have the ability to compensate for his absence, the players are good enough," he said. "I am confident we can get the results to take us to the next stage."

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