May 8, 2018 / 3:36 AM / 19 days ago

Soccer-Lack of time no concern for Saudi coach Pizzi

HONG KONG, May 8 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi says he is not concerned about a lack of preparation time for the World Cup in Russia as the side head to the finals for the first time in over a decade.

Pizzi, who was born in Argentina but represented Spain, was appointed in late November after Bert van Marwijk left the post after failing to agree a new contract and Edgardo Bauza lasted just three games before being fired.

The Saudis have qualified for the finals for the first time since Germany 2006 and have been drawn against hosts Russia, Egypt and Uruguay.

Pizzi, who led Chile to the final of last year’s Confederations Cup, said the plan for the World Cup was going well.

“We started in January with a training camp and then in February and another one now in Marbella in Spain,” he added.

“The last one is in Switzerland. Our focus is totally on the first game against Russia and the players are working very hard on that.”

Saudi Arabia will be appearing at the World Cup finals for the fifth time, with their best performance coming on their debut in 1994 when they reached the last 16.

“We have time to prepare for the World Cup,” said Pizzi.

“We started on April 25 and we will have almost two months to prepare, so we are very happy with the time and very excited about our chances at the World Cup.”

Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford

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