Roberto Mancini Aims to Lead Saudi National Team to Asian Cup
Roberto Mancini, the newly appointed coach for the Saudi Arabian national men's team, expressed his primary objective during the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) presentation event in Riyadh. His ambition centers around leading the team to victory in the Asian Cup, a feat that has eluded them for 27 years.
The seasoned Italian coach laid out his comprehensive vision, focusing on elevating the team's performance within the Asian region. He articulated his strategic plans for both the immediate and distant future, emphasizing his intent to carefully evaluate the players in order to successfully attain the ultimate goal of clinching the continental tournament.
In his statement, Mancini conveyed his goal succinctly, stating, "Our aim is to secure the Asian Cup after this long gap of 27 years. Prior to that milestone, we are set to engage in four friendly matches, followed by two World Cup qualifiers. Subsequently, we have earmarked a 20-day training camp dedicated to preparing for the Asian Cup."
While acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead, Mancini humbly noted, "I don't possess magical abilities. However, we are endowed with extraordinary talents, and it is through unwavering diligence that we can materialize our objectives. Our squad comprises of capable players, and the groundwork laid by the previous coach has been commendable. Moving forward, our paramount task is to translate our aspirations into tangible achievements on the field."
Herve Renard, the former coach, had guided the Saudi team during the Qatar World Cup, where they orchestrated a momentous upset by triumphing over eventual champions Argentina in their opening match. Regrettably, their journey concluded in the group stage.
Mancini also offered insights into the state of Saudi Arabian soccer, drawing parallels with his experiences in his homeland. Reflecting on the progress Italy had made due to the influx of prominent foreign players, he drew a hopeful connection to the development of Saudi players, stating, "Italy saw significant improvements thanks to the arrival of accomplished foreign players. This bodes well for the Saudi players."
Saudi Arabia is substantially investing in its premier football league, exemplified by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) unveiling the Sports Club Investment and Privatization Project. This initiative encompasses esteemed league champions, namely Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli, Al-Nassr, and Al-Hilal.
The President of SAFF, Yasser Al Misehal, affirmed the country's newfound appeal on the global stage, declaring, "Saudi Arabia has emerged as an enticing destination for renowned international figures."
Recent acquisitions such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Neymar have flocked to the country, amplifying its status. Furthermore, the inclusion of English coach Steven Gerrard underscores the Saudi league's growing prestige.