Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Melbourne: Saudi Arabia coach Cosmin Olaroiu was a relived man after his decision to adopt an admittedly risky attacking strategy paid off in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over DPR Korea as the three-time winners kept their AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 quarter-final hopes alive at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Knowing defeat would result in a second consecutive group stage exit, Olaroiu brought in full-backs Abdulla Al Dossary and Hassan Maaz following the weekend’s opening 1-0 loss to China, while Mohammed Al Sahlawi joined Naif Hazazi in a new-look two-man forward line.
And with Al Sahlawi scoring twice in the second half after Hazazi had equalised before half-time, Saudi Arabia are still in the hunt to qualify from Group B ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Uzbekistan.
“I was confident because it is difficult to play the way (DPR) Korea play for the entire game. They make a lot of pressure in front, but I know step-by-step they cannot make this and then our ball possession will make them tired and they will concede more space,” said Romanian coach Olaroiu.
“We chose to play with two strikers so we lost something in the middle and there was a problem there at the beginning of the game as we conceded a lot, and that’s why they scored and had a few dangerous counterattacks. But sometimes you have to take a risk as the only way we had was to win and we have to assume this risk.
“We scored goals, it was good. We used the qualities that we had and now we have to forget this quickly and think about the next game against Uzbekistan.”
But despite seeing Saudi Arabia end a five-game losing streak at the AFC Asian Cup, Olaroiu remained far from happy with the performance from the 2007 finalists.
“We made a lot of mistakes especially in the build-up, but it was a little bit difficult as the confidence was very low after what has happened and the pressure they have, and they are not used to playing this way, so it is difficult to find the mechanism in a short time,” added Olaroiu, who only took over as Saudi Arabia coach last month following November’s Gulf Cup final defeat.
“We played better against China. If we scored the penalty things would have been different. We have to look at every opponent and look at the good and the weak points and sometimes we have to change our strategy for each game, and that is why we used a different system and different players.
“We saw DPR Korea and we knew that they make dangerous counterattacks and they made a lot of trouble for us and we made more mistakes than the game against China, but we scored and played good football. Everybody enjoyed it and that is the most important (thing).”