A game that will be remembered for deflected goals and the good, bad and the ugly from the goalkeepers. However a fantastic day for the people of Syria, victory over the three time Asian Cup Winners is no mean feat.

It was clear to see from the off that Syria weren’t going to lie down and let the Saudi’s take the game to them. Wael Ayan’s early shot although high and wide had the venom behind it that showed they meant business. They started the first half strong and with the vocal support backing them up they continued to pepper the Saudi box with crosses.

Mohamed Al Zino was the first to really test Waleed Abdullah in the Saudi net, his 25 yard strike was hit well and Abdullah had to get his whole body behind the shot to avoid embarrassment.

Eventually the Syrian pressure paid off another cross into the box was poorly cleared by Osama Hawsawi it fell into the path of Abdulrazak Al Husein. His scuffed volley was heading straight for the keeper when Abdullah Shuhail stuck out his head and the slightest of touches saw it beat Abdullah and give the Syrian crowd reason to cheer.

Saudi Arabia’s best chance came with the scores tied a lovely through ball from Abdoh Autef put Nasser Al Shamrani in on goal, the pressure from two defenders seemed too much for him as he pulled his shot wide.

Autef was replaced at Half-Time by Tayseer Al Jassem, both players playing in similar positions it was a strange move from Jose Peseiro at the break. Something he said at the interval must have got through as the Saudi team came out with much more desire and put the pressure on Syria looking for an equaliser.

With an hour gone the pressure paid off. Manaf Aboshgair swung in the corner, Mosab Balhous rushed out and punched it clear, substitute Tayseer Al Jassem was first to react, launching himself at the ball his head beat everyone, bounced through Balhous legs and nestled in the net. Parity restored for the 2007 Champions.

It didn’t last long though another cross from Sanharib Malki was nodded down into Al Husein’s path, his power shot took a wicked deflection off Osama Hawsawi and Abdullah had no chance. Tremendous scenes on the pitch and in the stands as Syria had taken the lead for the second time.

In the final minutes it was keeper Mosab Balhous that came to the Syrians rescue. Saudi Arabia increased the pressure hunting for the equaliser. A cross deep from the left floated into the box, headed back across goal it was Naif Hazazi that directed his header towards goal, but Balhous was there to apply the fingertip save and earn Syria all three points.

After the games Saudi Arabia coach Jose Peseiro was philosophical about the performance.

“It was the first game and both teams wanted to win,” said Peseiro.

“In some periods we were the better team and controlled the game and in the second-half there was a lot of enthusiasm.

“There were also a lot of emotions and we didn’t deserve to lose the game. I’m disappointed at the result especially as we had some chances in the second-half.”

Syrian coach Tita Valeriu seemed more surprised than Peseiro about the result.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect this result but I expected to have a very good performance,”

“We played a great game although I have only had a short period with the national team,” the Romanian, who led Syrian side to glory in last year’s AFC Cup, added.

“However, we had a good mixture in our side and this was the key point behind the win tonight.

“The win is only the start and the hard thing for us will be to carry on with the same motivation and good performance in the next matches. We will prepare well for the next matches.”

Unfortunately for Jose Peseiro those would be his last comments as the Saudi Arabia manager. He was quickly sacked by the Saudi Football Federation shortly after the 2-1 defeat. Nasser Al Johar – who led the Green Falcon’s to the final of the 2000 Asian Cup, will take charge for the remainder of the tournament.


leave a comment