Saudi coach urges unity ahead of Gulf Cup opener

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Real Madrid Training & Press Conference

Saudi Arabian coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro is well aware the pressure is on him and his side as they kick off their Gulf Cup campaign tonight against .

As hosts there is a level of expectation amongst the local fans that the Green Falcons will go all the way, just as they did the last time they hosted the tournament in 2002.

The Spanish former Real Madrid boss issued a passionate plea for everyone, from fans to the media, to unite behind his side.

“Success depends of the efforts of everyone,” he said. “Not just the players and the coach, but the Saudi public.

“I am trying to achieve results for the team, but we just need the media and public to unite to assist and motivate the players. I don’t have a problem whether I continue with the team or not, I just want everyone to support the players.”

While they have long been a regional powerhouse, the Saudi’s record in the Gulf Cup is far from spectacular, with only three titles in 20 attempts. Former coach Frank Rijkaard was sacked after the last Gulf Cup after the Saudi’s failed to make it past the group stage, with just one win from their three games.

Caro insisted he was only focused on tonight’s clash with Qatar and had not given any thought to his own job safety.

“I’m only thinking about the first game, not the rest of the group stage, the future is in the hands of God. I just want to concentrate on my work and my responsibilities in the game against Qatar,” he said.

Their opponents in the opening game, Qatar, are considered one of the favourites for the tournament, although will be without attacking duo Sebastian Soria and Khalfan Ibrahim, who was this week one of three players nominated for the AFC Player of the Year award.

“I am quite satisfied with our preparations,” their coach Djamel Belmadi said after his squad landed in Riyadh.

“We faced many strong teams in our build-up games. Everyone saw that the players gelled well in the practice matches,” he added.
Qatar comes into this game on a four-match winning streak, which included a surprise 1-0 win over Australia last month.

With the Asian Cup looming large on the horizon, Belmadi sees this as the perfect preparation for his side.

“For us, it will be a good experience to play this game. We have important matches coming up (in the 2015 Asian Cup),” he said.

“I am sure we will be playing in front of a full house at King Fahd International Stadium. We will face similar matches at the Asian Cup (in Australia).

“I hope our fans get behind our team and support them like they have been doing over the years,” he added.

The other Group A match to take place on the opening night will see perennial strugglers take on .