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Crucial World Cup qualifier for KSA
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 06 - 2008

After an unsteady start to its 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Saudi Arabia looks ready to bring its campaign back on track when it faces Lebanon at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh (9 P.M.) on Monday.
Saudi Arabia is seeking a fifth appearance at the World Cup after taking part in the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006 Finals.
Saudi Arabia kicked its World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory against Singapore in their first Asian qualifier.
According to sources in the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF), there is tension between Saudi Arabia's Brazilian coach Helio dos Anjos and the SAFF after the Kingdom lost its second match in the qualifiers an unexpected 3-0 defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan in Tashkent last March.
The sources said that any further setback to the team may spell trouble for the coach.
Lebanon clash on Monday will not be an easy one as the Saudi team coach believes that it will be crucial for the Saudis. “Lebanon is a strong team. We have prepared well for the game,” Anjos said.
The coach added that he is optimistic about the game. He also has high hopes from his squad, which, he said, would avoid errors that brought the team down against the Uzbeks.
“I have selected the squad very carefully after the conclusion of all competitions in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The Kingdom played two friendly matches against Syria and Kuwait in preparation for these qualifiers and won both of them.
The biggest concern for the Saudi camp is a thigh injury to skipper Yasser Al-Qahtani. The injury had also ruled him out of the final training sessions. The team's medical staff has refused to confirm whether Qahtani will play or not. Saudi Arabia will conclude its training sessions at the venue of King Fahd Stadium on Sunday.
Throughout the training session, Anjos has depended on his main squad, which is expected to start the game on Monday.
Goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah is expected to replace Al-Ittihad's goalkeeper Taiser Al-Netaif after the former has shown great temperament in the last two friendies.
Midfielders Manaf Abushgair and Saud Khariri are doubtful after missing the match against Kuwait, defender Naif Al-Qadi is out after injuring his foot while defender Walid Abdrabh is suspended after picking up two yellow cards.
Lebanon arrived in Riyadh on Friday evening after a short stay in Doha where it lost 2-1 to Qatar.
Lebanon coach Emile Rustom knows that his side faces an uphill battle after losing both the previous games against Uzbekistan and Singapore.
Saudi Arabia sits third in Group D with three points while Lebanon is in the bottom of the group. __


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