DOHA — Roberto Mancini, the Italian coach of the Saudi Arabian national football team, has made strategic additions to the squad, calling up Mohammed Al-Buraik, Talal Haji, and Rayan Hamed to join the ongoing training camp in Qatar. This training camp forms a crucial part of the team's final preparations for the upcoming 2023 Asian Cup, scheduled to kick off on January 12 in Qatar.
In a closed-door friendly match at Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, the Saudi team secured a 1-0 victory against Lebanon. The match, held without an audience to maintain the secrecy of the team's preparations, saw Firas Al-Buraikan scoring the solitary goal for Mancini's team. The Italian coach experimented with two different formations in each half, with Al-Buraikan finding the net early in the second half.
Despite the victory, the team faces a setback as player Ayman Yahya will miss group training sessions due to a treatment program following an ankle injury sustained in the friendly against Lebanon. On a positive note, players Ali Al-Bulayhi and Eid Al-Muwullad engaged in special exercises with the medical team.
The team resumed its training program at the Sealine camp in Qatar on Friday, part of the final phase of preparations for the 2023 Asian Cup. Mancini led a recovery session at Sealine Resort, incorporating warm-up exercises, mini-matches, and stretching routines. After the training session, Mancini granted the players some free time, with a team gathering scheduled for the evening at the camp.
As the Saudi national football team fine-tunes its strategies and sharpens its skills in the lead-up to the 2023 Asian Cup, the additions to the squad and the positive results in friendly matches bode well for their prospects in the upcoming tournament.