Despite being the lowest ranked team at the tournament, Russia got their World Cup off to a rollicking start with a 5-0 pummelling of Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the tournament at the Luhzniki Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
However, as dominant as the hosts appeared in front of the watching world, their crushing victory was at least in part facilitated by the fact that the Saudis were horrendous from the outset.
Indeed, it would appear that the Saudi Football Federation (SAFF) are of the same mind, with their president rather dauntingly threatening to bring disciplinary “penalties” against the individual players he felt let the nation down.
SAFF chief Adel Ezzat is quoted by the Al-Youm Assabaa newspaper (via the TASS news agency) as saying:
We are very disappointed by the defeat. This result is totally unsatisfactory, because it does not reflect the true level of our preparedness.
Rather disconcertingly, Ezzat then went on to name names:
Several players will face a penalty – goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi and defender Omar Hawsawi.
Gulp. Hundred lashes all round, we presume. That’s the good ol’ fashioned Saudi way, after all.
This came after Turki bin Abdulmohsen, the chairman of the Saudi General Sport Authority, reportedly lambasted the Falcons’ efforts against Russia as “a total fiasco” in a video message posted via his personal Twitter account.
We dread to think what the fallout might entail once a Uruguayan attack of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani finish feasting upon that dreadful Saudi defence come 20th June.