Juan Antonio Pizzi has defended his performance as manager of Saudi Arabia despite his team being demolished 5-0 by hosts Russia in the first game of the World Cup on Thursday.
While not backing away from the fact his team’s shortcomings were severely exposed, Pizzi said that Russia played just as he expected and that it was simply his players’ poor performance that led to the one-sided result.
“We knew exactly how they were going to play. I don’t believe the opposing team has done anything to surprise us,” said the man who took Chile to the 2016 Copa America title. “I fully respect them, I do, and they have won in a landslide that’s true, but I believe they have won without doing much.”
When asked whether he thought the loss, the worst ever in the opening match of a World Cup, might cost him his job, he said he could only stick to his guns.
“I’ve got my own philosophy, and I try to do things as best as I can. Everything I do, I do giving my all. There are certain situations that I cannot control and I cannot control that.”
“I will keep working with all my effort. I trust in our previous work, I have trust in my players and I fully trust that we will have a better performance in the next game.”
And he defended the way he prepared the world No. 67 Saudis, who have not won a World Cup game since 1984.
“I believe that we have arrived here prepared, well prepared. We have been preparing for this championship, my players have shown that they are ready to play a World Cup.
“This game cannot be a reference (but) it is true that we have not done what we came here to do.”
“I think it is a poor performance that explains the result. Not their performance, but ours.”