Earlier this tournament, Iraq pulled off a massive upset to raise more doubts over Japan’s Asian Cup dubbed favouritism.
Roberto Mancini of Saudi Arabia warned his team against falling victim to the ongoing AFC Asian Cup 2023 shock, which has been suffered by favourites Japan when they were defeated by underdogs Iraq, who claimed their first victory over the team in 42 years.
Speaking ahead of Saudi Arabia’s match against Kyrgyzstan on Sunday, the Kingdom’s head coach admitted that anything is possible on the football pitch.
“Kyrgyzstan are a very good team. You know what happened yesterday with Japan against Iraq, nobody thought Iraq can beat Japan,” Mancini said on Saturday.
“If you want to win, you need to keep good concentration. What we did in the first match is in the past. This match will be very difficult,” the Italian coach added.
In their first match, Saudi Arabia survived defeat by beating Oman 2-1.
In a sold-out arena, Oman started the match with an early penalty via VA after Saudi Arabia’s Hassan Al-Tambakti tugged Oman’s Muhsen Al Ghassani, who was running to meet the cross.
Salah Al Yahyaei scored from the spot, creating a roaring cheer in the stadium as the Oman squad broke the hearts of Saudi fans.
After the shot, Saudi Arabia attempted to build their first spell of pressure but never found the chance to nail the net.
Several opportunities were seen for the Saudi squad, but the team found no luck in hooking in a goal as Oman remained defiant in their defence.
During the second half, Saudi Arabia finished with no goals in the net, while a robust Oman squad looked for their second goal to secure the match.
After the break, Oman continued to dominate, controlling the ball possession and the game’s momentum as Saudi Arabia looked for holes in their defence.
As the clock drew down, Saudi Arabia got its luck as they set the equalizer, drawing fans to their feet as the game reached its final few minutes.
Tied 1-1, the stadium drew tense as both teams attempted to secure their victory.
In the last minute, Saudi Arabia made it count, striking a goal ruled in their favour and taking home the win.
Kyrgyzstan defeated Vietnam 2-1 in their opener match and lost to Thailand 2-0 in their second match.
Thailand’s Supachai Chaided took the match’s first goal in the 26th minute, giving them the 1-0 lead.
Thailand’s Supachok Sarachat secured the second and final goal for the team in the 48th minute and framed the game with a full-time score of 2-0.
Chaided became the second Thai player to net in two Asian Cups after Sutee Suksomkit.