x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Peseiro is confident of salvaging Saudi campaign

Saudi Arabia's new coach Jose Peseiro is adamant he can revive the Gulf side's flagging qualifying campaign to avoid the almost missing out on a 2010 World Cup

Saudi Arabia's new coach Jose Peseiro is adamant he can revive the Gulf side's flagging qualifying campaign to avoid the almost unthinkable prospect of missing out on a 2010 World Cup finals berth. The former Sporting Lisbon and Panathinaikos manager, who last month became the Saudis' 20th coach in 15 years, plans to instil a sense of self-belief in his under-performing players to ensure safe passage to their fifth successive finals.

The stuttering Saudis are midway through the final qualifying stage but find themselves second from bottom in the five-team Group B on four points from four games, with only the top two finishers guaranteed a place in the South Africa finals. "My players have the ability, the quality and technical capability to get to the World Cup, I have no doubt about this," the Portuguese coach said. "It has not been good so far, it will be difficult but we have to believe we can do this. I have to get this into the heads of my players, I have to make them believe. If they want it, they can have it."

Peseiro, who was assistant coach to Carlos Quieroz at Real Madrid from 2003-2004, accepts the Saudis may have to rely on the play-offs to reach South Africa 2010, with leaders South Korea and regional powerhouse Iran likely to take the automatic berths. The two third-placed sides from the Asian groups will contest a play-off, with the winners taking on Oceania champions New Zealand for the last remaining place at the 32-team finals.

* With agencies