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Saudi Arabia’s Renard calls for focus after Asian Qualifiers win over Yemen, Qasim laments lack of match practice


Riyadh: Saudi Arabia head coach Herve Renard called for his side to remain grounded after they swept Yemen aside 3-0 in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Saturday.

Salem Al Dawsari opened the scoring for his country and Fahad Al Muwallad followed up with a first-half brace as the game was put to bed before the break. Unlike in their 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture, Yemen were unable to pose any serious threat throughout Saturday’s fixture.

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With Saudi Arabia now within touching distance from group leaders Vietnam, Renard remained reluctant to discuss qualification hopes, opting instead to remain focused on the task at hand.

“I am happy with the result, getting the three points is the most important thing,” said the Frenchman.

“After being 3-0 up at half-time, I was expecting us to score more in the second half but the hot and humid weather made it difficult for the players to keep going at the same rate. But the job is done, regardless of how many goals we scored.

“Any talk of World Cup qualification is premature, we will continue working hard game by game. I have full faith in my group; we have a nice blend of youth and experience.”

In turn, Yemen head coach Ahmed Qasim lamented the lack of match practice for his side’s display on Saturday.

“Our last match was against Qatar on 29 November 2019, that is nearly two years ago,” said Qasim.

“This match was a massive challenge for the players. We wanted to give our best, but Saudi Arabia scored early on then added two more, which made it an uphill battle from there on. Congratulations to Saudi Arabia, but for us it is time to move on and try to do better in our remaining matches.”

Up next for Yemen are Uzbekistan on Friday, with Saudi Arabia to play Singapore on the same day.

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