Saudi Arabia players are facing punishment when they return home from the FIFA World Cup after their disastrous opening-day defeat by hosts Russia, according to their football federation chief Adel Ezzat.
The Middle Eastern nation were widely labelled as one of the worst to ever perform at the World Cup after their 5-0 defeat by Russia in the opening game of the tournament on Thursday.
While no one considered Saudi Arabia to be contenders for the trophy, Ezzat says the performance in Moscow fell well below expectation and named three players facing a ‘penalty’ for their poor performance.
‘We are very disappointed by the defeat,’ Ezzat was quoted as saying in the Al-Youm Assabaa newspaper. ‘This result is totally unsatisfactory, because it does not reflect the true level of our preparedness.
‘Several players will face a penalty – goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi and defender Omar Hawsawi.’
It remains unclear what Ezzat means by a ‘penalty’, but the words strike a worrying chord in a country that still lives in fear of capital punishment, Daily Mail reported.
There was also criticism from another government figure in the form of Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Sport Authority, who described the game as a ‘total fiasco’ in a video posted on his Twitter page.
‘These players have made my face go black with embarrassment and fury.
‘This is down to their weak potential and ability. We did everything for this team and this generation of players, everything.
‘We brought them the best technical support, a team of the highest level and we paid them for three years.
‘But now we see they have limited capabilities.
‘They have achieved just five percent of what is expected and required of them.’
Saudi Arabia still have two more games against Luis Suarez’s Uruguay or Mohamed Salah’s Egypt in Group A.