x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Calm for Al Johar

Saudi Arabia are looking to get their title bid back on track with a win over Yemen at the Police Stadium in Wattaya.

Saudi's Abdo Ateef, right, competes with Qatar's Mesaad Al Hamad in Sunday's 0-0 draw.
Saudi's Abdo Ateef, right, competes with Qatar's Mesaad Al Hamad in Sunday's 0-0 draw.

MUSCAT // Saudi Arabia are looking to get their title bid back on track with a win over Yemen at the Police Stadium in Wattaya. But before the former champions turn up for their second Group B match, the coach Nasser al Johar is having to deal with an irate media after the Saudis were forced to a goalless draw against Qatar.

Al Johar - who has led the national team in 134 games - says he is not new to criticism, but admits it sometimes poses bigger headaches than his team's performances. He calls those critics "arm-chair experts who can only find faults than analyse a game" before turning his focus to the previous match. "We had a good first game in which 16 players from both sides were constantly engaged in the midfield. It was a very tactical game and to come out with a point with Qatar was a satisfying result for me," he says. "Others are entitled to their views, but the players gave 100 per cent that night and look forward to a win against Yemen."

Though Al Johar is expected to name the same line-up, the Yemen coach Mohsin Saleh is ready for change. "We have a player banned for one match and some injuries," Saleh said. "We plan to make changes to counter some of the Saudi players. It is purely technical, but we'll have three players out of the line-up from the last game." Mohammed Ali al Ammari sits out after being banned for a one match, Zahir Mohammed Farid has not recovered from an injury he sustained in the UAE game while Mohammed Saleh is ill and will not take the field.

Saleh, who wants to vacate his post after the tournament, says an upset may be round the corner. "This is a make or break match for us. So expect a surprise," he says. "We suffered through the poor refereeing in the first game but we are ready for the next match." apassela@thenational.ae