Saad Al-Shehri brought the national coach back into the focus of events again, with his unprecedented achievement by winning with the Olympic team the recently ended AFC U-23 Cup in Uzbekistan.

Certificates of praise and praise poured out on Saad Al-Shehri, especially that the achievement of the Olympic green was not a stroke of luck, but was the culmination of a great effort from the players and a clear imprint of the coach.

Perhaps the best testimonies were from the Asian Football Confederation, which considered Saad Al-Shehri one of the most prominent glory makers for the emerging talents in the continent of Asia, for his role in leading the Olympic team to reach the final of the 2022 AFC U-23 Championship in Uzbekistan, for the second time in a row in the history of the tournament, Then the title was crowned for the first time, and the 42-year-old coach continued, in recent years, he has scored great achievements with the age groups in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Shehri had spent a football career as a midfield player, during which he played with several clubs, and participated with the national team in the 1999 FIFA Youth World Cup, before turning to work in the field of coaching, where he achieved great successes.

At the beginning of his training career, Al-Shehri moved from training in the schools of the Eastern Province, to work with the age groups teams with Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Nasr, Al-Nahda and Al-Ittifaq clubs.

Then he made his first appearance with the national teams, as an assistant coach with the U-20 youth team during 2012, and his first appearance was as coach of the national teams in 2015, when he led the U-19 team to the final of the 2016 AFC U19 Championship, before To lose to Japan on penalties.

Al-Shehri then worked with the same team during the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and led it to reach the round of 16, after which he returned to working with clubs, and led Al-Ettifaq Club to get fourth place in the Saudi League 2017-2018 season.

But the temptation to work with the age groups returned again, so that Al-Shehri was appointed coach of the U-23 team in March 2018, and Al-Shehri supervised the Saudi team that participated in the 2018 Asian Games, where the team reached the quarter-finals, before returning strongly in the championship AFC U-23 2020 in Thailand, when he finished second and booked a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, for the first time since the 1996 Olympics.

In that tournament, the result of the original time of the final match was dominated by South Korea, before the latter won in extra time.

And now Al-Shehri aspires to make up for the loss of two Asian finals, by winning the 2022 AFC U-23 Cup in Uzbekistan. For its part, Al-Madina met with a number of national coaches, to shed light on the Saudi achievement, which came in purely Saudi hands, to gain special value.

coach on time

At the beginning, the national coach and lecturer in the Saudi and Asian Federation, Bandar Al-Jaithin, said: Perhaps what Saad Al-Shehri presented in the Asian Championship is an achievement for the country and also for the national coach, who whenever he has the opportunity is always on time.

He continued, “This achievement made us remember our coaches, who have achieved great achievements, led by the Dean of Saudi coaches, Captain Khalil Al-Zayani, Muhammad Al-Kharashi, Khaled Al-Qaroni, Abdul Aziz Al-Khaled, and even the young names today clearly presenting themselves, the last of whom are Saad Al-Shehri and Saleh Al-Mohammadi.”

He added: We must acknowledge the great support provided by the Ministry of Sports and with them the Football Association, especially the Technical Committee, which works on training and qualifying a large number of national coaches and gave them a great opportunity to supervise the Sunni clubs and teams. What the coach obtained previously, there were foreign coaches who did not have certificates, they only came from offices in order to obtain funds, and in the end there was no technical return and financial losses to the clubs and their overburdened debts.

Of course, last season, the Portuguese coach, Jose Mourinho, attended and praised the work of the national coach and spoke frankly. It is better that all the age groups be under the supervision of local coaches because they are close to the young players and know the environment around them. This is an experience we see in all countries that excel in sports.

I conclude my talk about the national coach today. Everyone should support the Saudi coach and give him the opportunity, as happens with the foreign coach. Also, we must stay away from the tendencies and slogans of the clubs when the national coach is with the national team. We must be professional in every sense of the word, but I repeat the praise of the captain. Saad Al-Shehri, who faced great pressure during and before the tournament, responded practically from inside the stadium.

National potential

As for Hamad Al-Dosari, the former coach of Al-Qadisiyah Club, he began his speech by congratulating coach Saad Al-Shehri on his achievement with the Olympic team, and said: This achievement was achieved through concerted efforts and good planning of officials on this team, and the most beautiful thing about this achievement is that it was achieved by the national coach Saad Al-Shehri. The one who presented the real capabilities of the Saudi coach and his presence on the scene, despite the attempts of some to reduce this work.

Al-Dosari continued: There is nothing difficult for the Saudi coach, and all he needs is the confidence of the officials and giving him the opportunity to present himself.

He added: Here we must admit that we have talents in all fields, and in the field of training we have many with qualified coaches since the mighty coach Khalil Al-Zayani, who achieved the first achievement for Saudi football at the level of Al-Ittifaq Club and the Saudi national team.

Al-Akhdar players celebrate their coach Saad Al-Shehri

Biggest Obstacles

As for the national coach, Ahmed Al-Hanfush, who previously worked in the technical staff of Al-Ettifaq Club, said to Al-Madina: The biggest obstacle to the national coach is the lack of confidence from the clubs despite his success at the national team level, and he demonstrated this by the achievement of coach Saad Al-Shehri.

He talked about his experience at Al-Ettifaq Club, which he described as good and useful, and pointed out that the national coach needs to hone his skills and trust from the heads of the clubs. He considered the last session in which a number of former players participated, which was held in Riyadh recently, as good and heralds a good future for the Saudi coach and supportive of the national coach.

And he concluded the conversation with “Le Madina”: The country is full of sports talents, and there are great potentials in our country that only lack support, no less or more.

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