Iran’s players free to express themselves at World Cup, says Queiroz

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s football coach Herve Renard says Croatia will provide a strong test for his side in Wednesday’s friendly clash between the two nations.

Croatia faced France in the World Cup final four years ago, and at Tuesday’s press conference Renard said: “One last match for us in the preparations journey, and (then) we have one week left before playing our first match in the 2022 World Cup.

“It’s the same for the Croatian team, so tomorrow’s match will be a tough one.

“Choosing to play against the Croatian national team is good for us at this stage of the preparatory program.

“During my training career I played many friendly matches, but the most important thing is the tournament in which we participate.”

Renard has sent a pre-competition message to Saudi fans, telling them to “trust the players, you know them well, but we must be patient because we are playing in a strong tournament, and the duty of players, and those on the technical and administration sides, is to make everyone proud of the team.”

Renard said that Wednesday’s clash will provide a different environment from the team’s first match in the footballing showpiece that follows.

He added: “Regardless of tomorrow’s result, the most important thing is that we remain focused on our mission in the World Cup.”

Speaking about Saudi striker Fahd Al-Mawlid’s late removal from the squad, Renard said: “We will miss him because he is an important player.”

His place in the World Cup roster has been taken by Nawaf Al-Abed.

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