Saudi Arabia, the second lowest ranked team in the tournament, looked hopelessly out of their depth as a superior Russia side repeatedly overwhelmed t
Saudi Arabia, the second lowest ranked team in the tournament, looked hopelessly out of their depth as a superior Russia side repeatedly overwhelmed their defence at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was watching from the stands alongside Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin-Salman, could barely contain his glee as the host nation romped to victory.
Yuri Gazinskiy, Artem Dzyuba, Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev, who notched-up two goals, were on the score sheet as the host nation racked up the biggest World Cup opening game tally since 1934.
In a humbling moment for Salman, a smug Putin leaned over to shake his hand in commiseration after Yuri Gazinskiy’s header gave Russia a 1-0 lead.
Saudi Football Federation (SFF) chief Adel Ezzat has today announced that members of the team will face “penalties” for their woeful performance in the opening game.
“We are very disappointed by the defeat,” Ezzat said, according to the Al-Youm Assabaa newspaper.
“This result is totally unsatisfactory, because it does not reflect the true level of our preparedness.”
“Several players will face a penalty – goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi and defender Omar Hawsawi,” he added.
The details of the punishment are yet to be revealed by the SFF.
Russia’s strikers and midfielders were able to waltz past the Saudi defence on almost every occasions they attacked and they lacked a cutting-edge going forward themselves.
Pizzi said he will do the “best he can” to bring the Green Falcons up to scratch for the next Group A game against Uruguay on June 20.
“The opposing team really didn’t have to make a huge effort to win this game,” the manager said after the game.
“We have now to forget this feeling of shame and start thinking about the next match.”
Salman, on the other hand, will find little conciliation in pity from Putin given his ambitions for Saudi Arabia to become one of the world’s preeminent footballing nations.
In a post-match video address, Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Sport Authority Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al-Sheikh described the game as a “total fiasco”.
He said: “These players have made my face go black with embarrassment and fury.
“This is down to their weak potential and ability. We did everything for this team and this generation of players, everything.
“We brought them the best technical support, a team of the highest level and we paid them for three years.
“But now we see they have limited capabilities.”