Coach seeks to lift Saudi spirits

Saudi Arabia coach Cosmin Olaroiu is hoping to lift the team’s spirit following a 2-0 Asian Cup warm-up loss to Korea Republic in Parramatta on Sunday.

The Romanian coach was encouraged by his side’s effort despite falling to an own goal from Osama Hawsawi and a late strike from Korean debutant Lee Jeong-hyeop. It follows a 4-1 friendly loss to Bahrain.

“I’m happy that they played for 60 minutes very well,” Olaroiu told afcasiancup.com

“Now we have made one step forward in terms of organisation on the field and it’s difficult to deal with the physical part of the team in this moment. It’s hard to recover, to be fresh for the start of the competition.”

Olaroiu took over the reins of the Green Falcons just days before the start of the tournament.

His appointment follows the  dismissal of Juan Ramon Lopez Caro after the Saudis were defeated in the final of the Gulf Cup in November.

The 45-year-old former Al Hilal and Al Ain coach is hoping his experience working in the Arab kingdom will help spur the team on.

“I worked in Saudi before, I know these players for a long time, most of them played with me and grew up with me when they were young and some of them played against me,” he said.

“But the most important thing is to try to build the spirit of the team.

“Somebody can be better than us, can be faster than us, can be stronger than us but we have to want it more than them and this is our target.”

Olaroiu believes fatigue could be the biggest hurdle facing his players.

“I try my best, we talk a lot, we work a lot with the players and I’m happy that they take some benefits from our work and I hope they will keep their confidence and that they look better game-by-game,” he said.

“It’s difficult to say how much, but we try our best, we can’t say how much. I hope in the next game they will look better and better.

“The problem is that they cannot improve, it’s difficult to improve if we’re going to play every four days. The problem is that the players come after a very long period of games, Gulf Cup, many games in the league cup, Al Hilal players play continuous from August in the AFC Champions League and the league and then they play almost every three or four days from August until now.

“So the most important thing is to recover. To prepare will be impossible in terms of the physical condition over a couple of days.

“As you see, when they are in good condition, they press and they play very aggressively. After we conceded, we couldn’t play in the same way and we conceded a little bit more and that changes the game.”