Dubai: Saudi Arabia may be three-time Asian champions, but their rich history will count for nothing in their opening AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 clash against DPR Korea, according to head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi. As a Copa America winner with Chile in 2016, the 50-year-old knows his way around a major tournament, and called on his players to get off to a strong start in their tenth successive appearance at the Finals.
"All tournaments are different from each other. and we can't evaluate the Saudi team in other editions of the Asian Cup thinking it might be repeated," he said.
"I think it is a good opportunity to implement our way of playing and overcome tomorrow's opponents. Previous results in this competition aren't something we can depend on in tomorrow's game.
"I respect all the opponents we might face and, personally, I think history doesn't count in this situation because you have to prove you are better than the opponent."
The injured Salman Al Faraj was discussed at the pre-match press conference at Rashid Stadium, and Pizzi said every effort was made to allow the midfield ace to recover before he was ultimately replaced by Nouh Al Mousa.
"We took as much as time as we could to declare the final playing list and we tried in every way to keep Salman with us," said the former Valencia boss.
"We understand and appreciate the effort made by Salman in trying to be with us, but unfortunately he didn't pass the final test in the final training session and that's why he had to call another player to the tournament.
"All of the other players are in excellent condition."