The Asian Mancini List Controversy: Debates, Insights, and the Road Ahead for Saudi National Football Team

2024-01-02 09:36:25

Controversy over the Asian “Mancini List”… and calls to support the “Green”

Saudi football experts, including former stars and coaches, disagreed on the list announced by the Italian Mancini, the coach of the Saudi national team, to participate in the next edition of the Asian Championship, which will be held in Qatar.

The difference in opinions focused on excluding distinguished names from the elements of experience with great technical levels in the current version of the Saudi Professional League Championship, or the King’s Cup Championship, in addition to the group stage of the AFC Champions League, the most prominent of whom are Sultan Al-Ghannam and Muhammad Al-Buraik, in addition to Yasser Al-Shahrani, which are names. It is considered the most prominent in the Kingdom, as well as names in some positions, including goalkeeping, as the four selected names lost experience after the injury of goalkeeper Muhammad Al-Owais and his forced exclusion, while the technical conviction to bring back the veteran goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf did not change even after the departure of former coach Renard.

Mancini focused his squad on young talents in a long-term step (Saudi national team)

Youssef Anbar, assistant coach of the Saudi national team that qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, said that coach Mancini’s technical choices were largely successful. Because he did not look at deserving the Asian Cup, but rather his view was far beyond this tournament, with many entitlements, the most prominent of which is the road to the 2026 World Cup, as well as the strong presence and competition to regain the continental championship title in the year 2027, which the Kingdom will host for the first time. The first.

He added, “The names that Mancini chose were the result of his complete conviction. Because he had a greater opportunity to follow the league and the matches in which young and emerging players participated, and that was his decision that must be respected and supported, and belittling and questioning the abilities of any of the selected players must be avoided, and their abilities should be measured against excluded players, given that the coach has great value. His outlook differs from that of those who are far removed from the scene and emotional views.”

He explained that the coach used approximately “7” new names on the list in which the Saudi national team began its journey in the joint Asian qualifiers for the next World Cup and the Asian Cup after the next, as the most prominent of them were Aoun Al-Bishi, Abbas Al-Hassan, Faisal Al-Ghamdi, and other rising names, and this gives a clear indication. The coach wants to work according to a continuity plan, not a short-term one. Because there is something important and there is something more important. It is important that you win, but the most important thing is that temporary results do not exist and future plans stop.”

The absence of Al-Omari and Al-Shahrani in Mancini’s list sparked controversy (Asharq Al-Awsat)

He stated that there were names that were not included due to injury; Such as the expert goalkeeper Muhammad Al Owais, and there are young names that have emerged, but the coach did not see them included. Like Moaz Faqihi, however, those who were included have the potential, whether goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Aqidi, who played great matches with Al-Nasr, or the rest of the other goalkeepers, namely Muhammad Al-Rubaie, Raghed Najjar, and Ahmed Al-Kassar, as the competition for the goalkeeper will not be settled.

Regarding the chances of the Saudi team in the upcoming continental championship, Anbar said: “I am not exaggerating if I say that I am optimistic to see the Saudi team in the final, and this in itself will be a great achievement compared to the existing names and available capabilities.”

He promised that there are stars with experience in the Saudi national team, such as Salem Al-Dosari, Ali Al-Bulaihi and Muhammad Kanno, who can help the existing names of young talent and players returning to the national team, such as Firas Al-Braikan, indicating that the Saudi national team will be able to make its supporters happy in the continental championship, and confirming that Saudi football remains an important figure in the Asian Championship with successive generations.

For his part, Saleh Khalifa, the former Saudi national team star who participated in achieving the first continental title for the Greens in 1984 in Singapore, also expressed his surprise at the list announced by coach Mancini, indicating that there are many names that were excluded from the list, while they are at the height of their giving and ability to Providing the best; Such as Sultan Al-Ghannam, Yasser Al-Shahrani, and Muhammad Al-Breik, and in the midfield there is Salman Al-Faraj and other names.

He added, “If there is someone who sees Al-Faraj’s exclusion as an example due to his not participating with his team, then the situation applies to his teammate Abdul Ilah Al-Maliki, who did not participate much and yet was selected, just as the players Muhammad Kanno and Firas Al-Braikan were not selected in the first two matches in the joint qualifiers.” They were called up for the Asian Cup, while it was surprising that Yasser Al-Shahrani was excluded, as some voices appeared questioning his abilities. He is the star most present in the national teams in almost the last ten years, as well as with his team Al-Hilal, which gained him great experience, and he reached the stage of experience that makes his presence important. Also, talking about the creative Sultan Al-Ghanem with Al-Nasr and Al-Breik with Al-Hilal, and therefore the questions are legitimate.”

He explained that there were also names that had not participated in a while; Like goalkeeper Muhammad Al-Rubaie, the former star stressed that he does not doubt the abilities of any player chosen, but he is convinced that the player who is capable of giving must be given the opportunity to be in the national team until the last tournament he can be present in, as the Asian Championship is one of the strong tournaments. Which requires a greater mix between experienced and youth players.

Regarding the ability of the Saudi team to reach the final, Khalifa said: “If the Saudi team reaches the semi-finals, I believe that this will be an important achievement, as the indicators do not indicate that the Saudi team can regain the continental title that has been absent for 27 years through the tournament.” Next in Doha.

Khalifa expressed full support for the names that were chosen and did not belittle any of them, and stood behind the Saudi team in the continental championship.

For his part, Abdullah Suleiman, defender of the Saudi national team, who participated in the last continental championship won by Al-Akhdar in 1996, believes that renewal is important for the sake of future entitlements, which may outweigh in importance the competition to win the Asian Championship.

He added, “The coach has a special technical vision and is the closest to the players and their readiness and ability to serve the Saudi national team.” Mancini is a world-class and experienced coach, and he cannot be far from what is best for the national team. Certainly, he chose a large list of young names; Because he looks beyond the Asian Cup. This tournament may be a very suitable opportunity in order to gain more talent and names that will contribute to reaching the World Cup (2026), which is a very important entitlement, as well as the Asian Championship (2027), which will be held in the Kingdom. This tournament cannot be missed by the young names who have emerged and excelled with their teams, and are certainly eager to contribute to making an achievement for Saudi football.”

He stated that the Saudi national team can advance to the second round in the continental championship, and with the progress of the knockout matches, there will be greater difficulty, but this existing mixture of experienced and young players can make its mark.

Regarding the last Saudi tournament in which he participated and achieved the third title in Abu Dhabi, he said: “The situation is different from now. The Saudi team at that time had produced a creative generation in the 1994 World Cup, and was a strong candidate to win the title, and it was a generation of players who had accumulated experience, and therefore Everyone was demanding to win the title, and this was achieved by defeating the host UAE team in the final on penalties.

Suleiman called for unifying the voices supporting the national team, avoiding the voice of tendencies, and reducing the existing elements. Because standing behind the national team is the most important thing in the next stage with the cessation of local competitions, he expressed optimism that results that exceed the expectations of many will be achieved by the Saudi team in the tournament, especially since the young names have also gained the experience of interacting with big stars present in the Saudi League.

Finally, Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Khaled considered that the important thing is to benefit from all the names of the experienced stars in the Saudi League, even if some of them have only a few months left until they retire. Because the continental championship requires a lot of experience and work in order to compete with the top teams on the continent, and this merit cannot be considered secondary in any way, hoping that the Saudi team will be able to advance towards competing for the title.

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