DOHA - Saudi Arabia sacked Portuguese coach
Jose Peseiro after Sunday's shock 2-1 defeat by Syria in their
opening Asian Cup match.
Nasser Al-Johar, one of Peseiro's backroom staff for the
tournament in Qatar, was named as his successor by the Saudi
Arabian Football Association.
Al-Johar also took over as coach at the 2000 Asian Cup when
the Saudis sacked Czech Milan Macala following a 4-1
opening-match defeat by Japan. He went on to steer the team into
the final where they again lost to the same opposition.
The FA acted on Sunday after rowdy Saudi reporters gave
Peseiro a grilling for the second successive day when his team
were beaten in a lively Group B match at the Al Rayyan Stadium.
"The quality of the players was not as we wished, they
didn't play with their hearts. I blame the players and have
released the coach," said FA president Prince Sultan Bin Fahd
Bin Abdulaziz in a statement.
"It is not acceptable for Saudi Arabia. The coach has had
enough time, more than a year and a half, to do a perfect job."
Peseiro, 50, in charge since February 2009, was already
under intense pressure after the team failed to qualify for last
year's World Cup in South Africa - the first time they had
missed the finals since 1990.
He was given an uncompromising reception by reporters on
Sunday immediately after the Saudis, triple Asian champions,
lost to Syria for only the second time in 24 meetings dating
back to 1976.
"Do you take responsibility for that, and if you do, are you
going to resign?", he was asked at a news conference while other
reporters criticised his team selection.
"I believe in this team, I believe we are winners," Peseiro
replied with a look of anger in his eyes.
"Look at Spain in the World Cup, they lost the first match
and finished as champions. If we beat Jordan and Japan in our
next two matches we will go through to the next phase."
Peseiro, who includes a spell working with Carlos Queiroz at
Real Madrid on his impressive CV, was also asked whether the
Saudi media were correct to criticise him in the build-up to the
match because their observations had been borne out with defeat.
"Do you blame us for this defeat now?" one asked
"I am not playing against the media, I am playing against
Japan, Jordan and Syria," replied Peseiro.
"Listen, it was not a good result, but we did not play all
that badly. We showed some good spirit and we deserved a better
Saturday's pre-match news conference was also a shouting
contest between Peseiro and reporters, with the coach saying he
was only answerable to his employers, not to journalists.
"You are free to write what you like about me but don't
demoralise my players," he told them before learning of his
Saudi Arabia's next game is against Jordan on Thursday.
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