Saudi Arabia Coach Bauza 'Under the Microscope,' Says Sports Chief

Saudi Arabia Coach Bauza 'Under the Microscope,' Says Sports Chief
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Published November 16th, 2017 - 19:36 GMT via

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Saudi Arabia coach Edgardo Bauza
Saudi Arabia coach Edgardo Bauza

The future of Saudi Arabia coach Edgardo Bauza is the subject of rising speculation ahead of the Green Falcons’ World Cup finals bid.

Reports surfaced in Argentina on Tuesday that Bauza, who was appointed to the post only in September, had been fired after just five friendly matches in charge.

Bauza’s agent, Gustavo Lescovich, told La Nacion newspaper he was aware of the rumours but that he is yet to hear from the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) about his client. “There is nothing official,” he said.

A spokesman for SAFF confirmed yesterday that Bauza is still the coach of the Green Falcons.

But Bauza’s performance has been questioned following an underwhelming tour of western Europe. KSA lost two of their three matches in Portugal, scoring just two goals.

Turki Al-AlShaikh, Chairman of the General Sport Authority, cast doubt on Bauza’s performance when he tweeted: “There is no coherence between players (no technical identity)... results are not good ... Bauza is under the microscope.”

Yousif Amber, a member of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF), echoed Al-AlShaikh’s sentiments. “Turki is not happy with results,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat. “But we need to give him more time because he is still searching, he’s still experimenting with new players.”

The removal of Bauza would leave the Federation searching for a new manager just six months before their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals.

The Saudi Arabia manager post has always been one of the hottest seats in world football. Any managerial change would be similar to the one the Federation made in 2006 when Gabriel Calderon, another Argentine, was fired only months before a World Cup.

Bauza was hired only two months ago, persuaded to leave his job with the UAE by the carrot of leading Saudi Arabia to next summer’s much-anticipated finals in Russia. He replaced Bert van Marwijk who had lost his job despite impressively leading KSA to the finals on the back of a 65 percent win rate, the best in the country’s history. Bauza started off well in an unofficial friendly against Jamaica, roaring into a four-goal lead after 48 minutes on the way to a 5-2. The signs then were hugely encouraging. But defeats to Ghana, Portugal and Bulgaria have followed either side of a 2-0 win over lowly Latvia. There were particular alarm bells in the toothless display against Bulgaria on Monday night.

Mansour Al-Harbi was sent off — a rarity in a friendly — for a reckless tackle and there was a general lack of discipline, with others fortunate not to follow the Al-Ahli left-back into the referee’s notebook. The Spanish-speaking Bauza also appeared to struggle to get his message across to his Arabic players and cut a frustrated and animated figure on the touchline as his tactical instructions fell on deaf ears.

Most alarmingly on the three-game tour of western Europe, Saudi Arabia mustered just two goals in 270 minutes of football and looked particularly impotent against Portugal, exactly the type of opposition they will face in Russia.

Copyright: Arab News © 2017 All rights reserved.

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