Saudi Arabia head coach Herve Renard delivered a brilliant half-time team talk to motivate his team to a win against Argentina.
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The Saudis pulled off one of the greatest World Cup shocks in history by coming from a goal down to beat Argentina 2-1 on Monday. The South American champions scored first through Lionel Messi and had three more goals chalked off for offside in the first half.
Argentina were expected to win comfortably, but Renard’s team had other ideas. Saleh Al Shehri equalised after the break before Salem Al Dawsari produced one of the goals of the tournament to stun the bookies’ second-favourites.
Saudi Arabia’s superb comeback started after Renard’s powerful team talk. Renard, speaking in English, shouted at his players, “What are we doing here? Hey! This is our pressing? A lot of pressing doesn’t mean you will go high [up the pitch].”
The Saudi manager then slammed his players for their failure to mark Messi. He said, “Messi, in the middle of the pitch, he has the ball and you stand in front of the defence… you have to go and mark him in the middle! Take your phone, you can make a picture with him!”
Using an Arabic translator, Renard delivered his defining line. He said, “You don’t feel something here? You don’t feel we are able to come back? You don’t feel it? They play relaxed! Come on guys, come on! This is the World Cup! Give everything!”
Renard will be hoping his players can continue their good form against Poland at the Education City Stadium on Saturday. Win for the Saudis would guarantee their place in the last 16 of the competition, something that seemed unlikely a week ago.
Saudi Arabia were expected to finish bottom of their group, as they were the second-lowest ranked team heading into the World Cup (51st). Only Ghana (60th) were below. In comparison, Argentina went into the tournament ranked third in the world.
Yet they are now just three points away from completing the impossible. The Saudis can also progress if they beat Mexico in their last group game at the Lusail Stadium on Wednesday. The opening match between Mexico and Poland finished goalless.
Renard has built a fine reputation in international management since being sacked by Cambridge in December 2004. He won just four of his 25 matches in charge and left them in the League Two relegation zone. They went on to suffer relegation that term.
?? Arabia Saudí perdía 1-0 contra Argentina al descanso.
? Y apareció Hervé Renard.
? El resto es historia.
?️ @SaudiNT pic.twitter.com/TpZvGsQIvs
— Relevo (@relevo) November 24, 2022
He guided Zambia to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2012 and repeated the trick with the Ivory Coast three years later. Ironically, his Zambia team defeated the Ivory Coast to win in 2012. He is the first manager to lift the AFCON with two different countries.
Renard then led Morocco to World Cup qualification in 2018 and achieved the same with Saudi Arabia this time around. He has tried to make a comeback in club management but he suffered relegation at Sochuax and was sacked by Lille after just 13 matches.