x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Gulf Cup: Saudi Arabia coach says 'We have no choice but to win'

Facing Kuwait, the team that knocked them out of the final in Yemen 2010's edition of the Gulf Cup, coach Frank Rijkaard says Saudi Arabia's thoughts are only on winning, not revenge.

Saudi Arabia's Sultan Al Bishi, right, and his team will meet Kuwait in a must-win Gulf Cup Group B game on Saturday.
Saudi Arabia's Sultan Al Bishi, right, and his team will meet Kuwait in a must-win Gulf Cup Group B game on Saturday.

Frank Rijkaard, the Saudi Arabia coach, insists his team will not be looking for revenge when they meet Kuwait, who beat them in the final of the last Gulf Cup, in a must-win Group B game on Saturday.

Only one of the two finalists from 2010 Yemen will make it to the knockout stages of the tournament in Bahrain and defending champions Kuwait are better placed. A draw will be enough for Goran Tufegdzic's team to book a semi-final clash with the UAE since they lead Saudi Arabia on goal difference.

Kuwait have scored twice and conceded once in their two game, while Saudi Arabia have conceded two and scored one.

"We have no choice but to win this game against Kuwait, just as we had to win against Yemen to stay in contention," Rijkaard said. "We are certainly not looking for revenge, but we know this is a very sensitive game for the two teams as it will decide the second semi-finalist from the group.

"So we are looking to play a really strong game and make sure we continue our journey in the tournament."

Tufegdzic, the Kuwait coach, concedes his team have the easier task, but the Serbian and his players seem keen to book their place in the semis with what could be a morale-boosting victory.

"We have two ways of booking our place in the semi-finals," he said. "We can go through with either a draw or a win, and we are open to both possibilities.

"But a match between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia enjoys a special place in Gulf Cup history and my players are really geared up for this game.

"The motivation is really high and they are ready to go out and do their best in what is certainly a tough game for both us and them."

Iraq, who have already qualified for the knockout stages with two wins from two matches, meet Yemen in the other match tonight.

Hakeem Shaker, Iraq's coach, is looking to rest some of his key players ahead of the semis.

"We have achieved important victories in our first two games and it has not been easy, especially when you consider that we beat Saudi Arabia and Kuwait," the Iraq coach said. "Yemen will not be easy, as well.

"In this tournament, they have shown they are a good side. They have probably surprised many people with their performance and I believe Yemen football is on track for a bright future."


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