Saudi coach casts thoughts on plane crash victims

JAKARTA: After watching his team qualify for the Asian Cup semi-finals, Saudi Arabia's Brazilian coach Helio Dos Anjos let his thoughts turn to lost friends who died in a plane crash in Sao Paulo. 

Dos Anjos masterminded a thrilling 2-1 victory for the Saudis here in a stunning quarter-final against a powerful Uzbekistan side but after the match he turned his attentions to the plane crash that killed nearly 200 people in Brazil last Tuesday. 

“I'm very sad about the crash in Brazil because I lost a lot of friends but today I am very happy and dedicate this victory to the people of Saudi Arabia,” he said. 

Dos Anjos also turned his attention to upcoming problems as his side had to travel to Vietnam yesterday with their crucial semi-final against Japan just two days later. 

“We have a lot of problems to travel to Vietnam and I must discuss this with the Saudi federation now,” said the Brazilian after Sunday's match. 

“We are trying to get a special plane for us but we have many problems. 

“It will not be easy, especially with the way Japan play, which is very different to all the other teams we have played. 

“They are very skilful, fast and have a lot of quality. We respect them a lot but we are not afraid.” 

Double reigning champions Japan certainly will pose a different problem to Uzbekistan, whose power and European style of play saw them dominate large parts of the quarter-final match. 

Uzbekistan hit the woodwork five times and had a goal from captain Maxsim Shatskikh wrongly ruled out for offside on the half-hour mark. 

But goals from Yasser Al Qahtani and Ahmed Al Mousa gave the Saudis a 2-0 lead before Pavel Solomin gave the former Soviet Republic a late lifeline. 

As the Uzbeks pushed forward, the Saudis hit them with a string of rapier-like counter-attacks and could easily have scored a hatful themselves. 

Dos Anjos refuted suggestions his team had luck on their side. 

“How many chances did we miss?” he said. “We are happy to go to the next round. It was a tough game, both teams played very well. 

“They had chances but we also had lots of opportunities. It was an open game, a very decisive game but I don't think we were lucky. 

“We played very well and the first goal we scored came from something we practiced a lot in training. We deserved to win. Uzbekistan have a lot of quality.” 

His side have got better with every match and at times their passing, movement and interplay around the box was reminiscent of Brazil. 

And yet Dos Anjos is still coming under fire from the Saudi press. 

“I haven't coached Flamengo or Brazil so I'm not famous in Saudi Arabia so it's normal to have criticism but now they are starting to get to know me,” he said. 

“I just have to win games. I don't pay any attention to the criticism. You can ask my translator, I have never asked him to read an article in the Saudi press to me. 

“Criticism is normal all over the world, not just in Saudi Arabia. 

“But I want people to know that on the other side of the pitch was another team, a very strong team that beat China 3-0. That shows that you have to respect them.” – AFP 

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