Herve Renard left with plenty to ponder after Saudi Arabia doubleheader against Jamaica

A doubleheader against Jamaica witnessed contrasting fortunes, and displays, when Herve Renard’s Saudi Arabia ended their 11-month hiatus. Salem Al Dawsari’s rebound from his penalty, Al Hilal club-mate Saleh Al Shehri’s sharp finish and Al...

Herve Renard left with plenty to ponder after Saudi Arabia doubleheader against Jamaica
A doubleheader against Jamaica witnessed contrasting fortunes, and displays, when Herve Renard’s Saudi Arabia ended their 11-month hiatus. Salem Al Dawsari’s rebound from his penalty, Al Hilal club-mate Saleh Al Shehri’s sharp finish and Al Nassr prospect Firas Al Buraikan’s tap-in handed the Green Falcons a 3-0 victory at Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on Saturday. Experimentation with a change in shape would then produce uncertain outcomes in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat, during which Daniel Johnson and Javon East emphatically responded to Al Shabab youngster Abdullah Al Hamdan’s well-taken opener. Here is a rundown of the issues coach Herve Renard will now be pondering as he looks ahead after his first matches back in the dugout since December 2019’s shock Gulf Cup final reversal to Bahrain: AN IDENTITY EMERGING? For reasons both within and outside of his control, Renard’s introduction to Saudi football has been staccato. Disappointing World Cup 2022 qualifying draws versus Yemen and Palestine are contrasted with the heart-racing 3-2 triumph in Uzbekistan. Raucous semi-final joy versus hosts Qatar was swiftly forgotten by pained defeat to the Bahrainis in last winter’s Gulf get together. Asserting an identity is never easy for international coaches with such little contact time. Coronavirus has only accentuated this. Yet, tangible signs of development were present versus the Reggae Boyz. Even with mixed results. There was the fascinating first deviation in his 13-match reign away from a four-man defence, for the second meeting. This is a tactic used rarely in the Middle East, but one which could prove invaluable to meet specific future tests. Extra emphasis was made on passing out from the back. The 32 long passes recorded in last week’s opener was the least, according to Wyscout, since Renard’s friendly debut, September 2019’s 1-1 draw with Mali.