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Alshehri predicts a bright future for Saudi Arabia’s rising stars

Bangkok: Head coach Saad Alshehri believes Saudi Arabia has a distinctly bright footballing future after watching his young charges lose 1-0 to Korea Republic in Sunday’s AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 final.

Jeong Tae-wook’s towering 113th minute header helped the Koreans seal their first-ever Continental crown at this level, a goal which left Saudi Arabia to reflect, instead, on their successful qualification for this year’s Olympic Games.

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Despite the title showdown defeat, Al Shehri has been quick to reveal the optimism he has when pondering what lies ahead at the end of a tournament during which Saudi Arabia shone brightly.

“I am very proud of my team for what they did today and, indeed, throughout the entire tournament,” he said.

“We are a good team which is a very important thing for the future of Saudi Arabia. We have achieved our goal of qualifying for the Olympics and, importantly, we can see that we have the basis of a good team.

“We must take the positives from this AFC U23 Championship, and that is that we have quality players. It bodes very well for the future.”

#AFCU23 - Final: Korea Republic 1-0 Saudi Arabia (AET)

With Tokyo 2020 already beckoning, Alshehri was, however, acutely aware that Saudi Arabia still have work to do if they are to compete with the world’s elite.

“As of now, I am not sure which players we will take to the Olympics. All the players have performed well during this competition because they had their goals and they have their dreams. They have quality,” he explained.

“What we have done here in Thailand has been very good for us. We are happy about that but, of course, we need to improve going forward as the Olympics is definitely a higher level.”

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