Football: Solari turns on the heat

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The Independent Online
Saudi Arabia. 2

Al Jaber pen 7, Amin 45

Morocco. . . 1

Chaouch 26

Attendance: 74,404

JORGE SOLARI, a member of the Argentina team defeated amid such acrimony by England in the 1966 quarter-finals, yesterday guided Saudi Arabia to their greatest footballing moment, a slightly fortuitous victory which revived Arabic aspirations of reaching the next stage.

Solari's skilful, if naive side, who moved alongside the Dutch in Group F, now face Belgium, the leaders, in Washington on Wednesday.

The Saudi players celebrated afterwards like FA Cup-winners, saluting their small band of followers and dancing off the Giants Stadium's sun-dappled pitch bedecked in green flags and scarves.

When asked whether his successful charges would receive cash or more cars from Saudi Arabia's oil-rich rulers, Solari retorted: 'We play not for financial reward but for pride in our country. We have the skill to reach the last eight.'

Solari's team prevailed because their commitment never wavered and their defence, which had been issuing open invitations to Morocco's attackers, tightened immeasurably after the break.

Saudi Arabia enjoyed the perfect start to only their second World Cup game: Nourredine Naybet tripped Sami Al Jaber and the forward confidently converted Philip Don's penalty award himself.

The incessant drumming of the fez brigade, who had been performing a mass instrumental version of 'Gimme Some Loving', fell quiet as the Lions of the Atlas tried to refind their route.

Ahmed Bahja, led the way, dribbling through the Saudis' hesitant defence for the third time before squaring to Mohamed Chaouch, who scored easily from five yards.

Morocco, equally in need of victory following their opening defeat by Belgium, controlled large tracts of a joyous match but never recovered from a second reverse, moments before half-time. It was a goal of near- Brazilian brilliance, Fuad Amin bending the ball past a disorientated Khalil Azmi from 25 yards. A fitting winner.

MOROCCO (4-4-2): Azmi (Raja Casablanca); Abdellah (Waregem), Triki (Chateauroux), Naybet (Sporting Lisbon), El Hadrioui (FAR Rabat); Hababi (Olympic Khouribga), Azzouzi (MSV Duisburg), El Khalej (KAC Marrakesh), Daoudi (Wydad Casablanca); Chaouch (Nice), Bahja (KAC Marrakesh). Substitutes: Laghrissi (Raja Casablanca) for Abdellah, 58; Hadji (Nancy) for Hababi, 74.

SAUDI ARABIA (4-4-2): Al Deayea (Al Tai); Al Anadi (Al Shabab), Al Khilawi (Al Ittihad), Madani (Al Ittihad), Al Jawad (Al Ahli); Amin (Al Hilal), Al Jibreen (Al Riyadh), Al Bishi (Al Nasr), Al Muwallid (Al Ahli); Al Jaber (Al Hilal), Owairan (Al Shabab). Substitutes: Zebermawi (Al Ahli) for Al Anadi, 29; Al Ghashayan (Al Hilal) for Al Jaber, 80.

Referee: P Don (England).

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