Renard says 'nothing changes' for Saudis after Argentina upset

Renard says 'nothing changes' for Saudis after Argentina upset

Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard (L) has his sights set on a place in the last 16
Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard (L) has his sights set on a place in the last 16. Photo: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP
Source: AFP

Coach Herve Renard said Saudi Arabia's shock win over Argentina at the World Cup will count for little if they fail to get out of the group stage in Qatar.

Saudi Arabia pulled off one of the greatest World Cup upsets as they came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 in their opening game of the tournament.

At 51st in the world, Saudi Arabia are the second lowest ranked team at the finals, but the Green Falcons can qualify for the last 16 on Saturday with victory over Poland.

"The only good thing at the end of this stage is to finish number one or two, so whatever happens, the most important thing is to be qualified for the next round," said Renard.

"At the moment we are concentrating and nothing changes. We are still the lowest team in the group in terms of FIFA ranking and experience."

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"Nothing changes in our mind. We know where we're coming from and we're keeping our humility. We know without that we won't be able to play a very good game tomorrow."

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A video of Renard's impassioned half-time team talk during the Argentina game was widely shared on social media, but he downplayed the effect it had on his players.

An animated Renard was seen pacing around the dressing room berating his side for not putting more pressure on Lionel Messi.

"It works this time, sometimes you do the same and it doesn't work," he said.

"I need to push my players. If I don't like things then I need to tell them."

He added: "When you compete with the best players in the world. Messi, Lautaro Martinez, (Angel) Di Maria in the first game, players are always motivated."

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The Saudis made the last 16 on their World Cup debut in 1994 but have not advanced to the knockout phase in their past four attempts.

"After this first game we have thought long and hard about how to go beyond this group stage," said Saleh Al-Shehri, who scored the equaliser against Argentina.

"But we still have two games to go and we're not there yet."

He added: "I think if anyone underestimates anyone else that's a problem for them. We have confidence in ourselves and I think we can pull it off."

Renard said it was unlikely defender Yasser Al-Shahrani would play again at the World Cup after a horrifying collision with goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais at the end of the Argentina game.

Al-Shahrani has already undergone an operation on his pancreas after being transferred to a Riyadh hospital. Renard revealed he would also require facial surgery.

"He's someone very important for us and we are missing him. We think about him and we'll fight for him."

Source: AFP