Saudi strikers earn praise

Saudi Arabia coach Helio Cesar dos Anjos believes Yasser Al Qahtani and Malek Maaz are as good as any he has seen.

Saudi Arabia coach Helio Cesar dos Anjos knows a thing or two about strikers and the Brazilian believes Yasser Al Qahtani and Malek Maaz are as good as any he has seen.

The Saudi strikers have been in brilliant form during the Asian Cup, netting six goals between them to fire their side into Sunday's final against Iraq.

Al Qahtani, whose nickname is "the sniper", is joint leading scorer for the tournament with four goals, tied with Japan's German-based striker Naohiro Takahara.

He converted a penalty to earn his team a 1-1 draw in their first pool game against Korea Republic and the skipper also found the back of the net in his team's 2-1 win over co-hosts Indonesia.

The 24-year-old scored in his team's 2-1 quarter-final win over Uzbekistan and again in their 3-2 semi-final victory over Japan. Maaz, 23, scored twice against the Japanese, including a spectacular solo effort to split the teams when they were level at 2-2.

Both men play club football in Saudi Arabia but Anjos said they were good enough to play anywhere in the world.

"These are two players who would have no problems playing in any team in Japan or in Europe, and some of our other players too, and I hope this will happen in the future," Anjos told a news conference, speaking through a translator.

Although Saudi Arabia have won the Asian Cup three times and are through to their sixth final, Anjos said the national team would be even better if more players went overseas.

There has been speculation that either Al Qahtani or Maaz might go to Europe.

"The big advantage that Australia, Japan and South Korea have over Saudi Arabia is that we don't have any players playing outside of their own country," Anjos said.

"That brings some problems for our team, especially in terms of competitiveness."
Source: Reuters