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Alshehri wants a little more from Saudi Arabia

Bangkok: Saudi Arabia head coach Saad Alshehri believes a lack of individual brilliance proved crucial as his side were held to a 0-0 draw by Qatar in Group B of the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 on Sunday.

Despite creating the more clear-cut opportunities in what proved to be a tight and tense encounter at the Thammasat Stadium, the Saudis failed to convert a number of second-half chances after breaching a resolute Qatar defence.

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Although the result, following their impressive Matchday One win over Japan, leaves Saudi Arabia on the brink of qualifying for the quarter-finals, Alshehri was left rueing a case of what could have been for his young stars.

“I think it wasn’t a bad game, but we were up against a team playing 5-3-2, so we knew we would be afforded little space in which to create,” he said.

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group B: Saudi Arabia 0-0 Qatar

“In truth, we needed one of our players to make a difference, to create an opportunity. Eventually, in the second half, we created some chances but were unable to score.

“This was the difference between this game and our last one. Japan play an open style of football, whereas Qatar defended in numbers. We, of course, needed to find a solution to that problem but couldn’t. However, there is still everything to play for.”

The West Asians will now head into their final Group B fixture against Syria needing a win to absolutely guarantee their progress, and with Alshehri looking for them to improve in key areas.

“All the teams in this group are strong,” he declared. “What happened in our game against Qatar was normal for football and all we need to do against Syria is improve certain aspects of our game. Hopefully the next match will see an improvement.”

Opposite number Felix Sanchez, meanwhile, revealed that he was happy with Qatar’s display, one that also keeps them in contention for a place in the last eight ahead of their meeting with Japan.

“The match was a very difficult one for us, and we tried to control the ball for as long as possible against very good opponents,” the Spaniard told reporters.

“In general, we performed better in this match than we did in our previous one against Syria and the result was fair even though we were hoping to get a win. To still be alive in the tournament going into the final group stage game is important.”

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