First bitter disappointment in an official competition for Roberto Mancini. His run for Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup ended in the round of 16. Bitter elimination, as the Saudi national team lost 4-2 on penalties against South Korea under Jürgen Klinsmann after being caught in the 9th minute of stoppage time in regular time (1-1). With the Saudi national team, which was among the favorites, the Italian coach then found himself at the center of a controversy because he left the field before the end of the penalty shootout that promoted the national team of German coach Klinsmann. In fact, Mancini left before South Korea scored the decisive penalty.
He walked into the tunnel at Education City Stadium while the penalty shootout was still in progress, a stance that infuriated fans on social media but also Saudi Football Association president Yasser Al-Meshal, who spoke of “unacceptable” behavior , but later explained that The coach thanked the players in the locker room. However, according to “Arab News”, Mancini's early departure from the field could be his last image as coach of the Green Falcons: The coach then apologized in the press conference and explained that he did not understand that the penalties had not yet ended, one Justification that, in the eyes of the Saudi media, exacerbates the situation. Mancini had already caused a stir the evening before when he revealed that he had left three of the most important international players out of the squad because they wanted a guarantee of employment, but things didn't go any better on the pitch with the win. On his debut against Oman and in the 0 The team's 0-0 draw against Thailand in the group stage was far from convincing; only a 2-0 draw against Kyrgyzstan was salvageable. There is now more than a shadow over the future of the Jesi coach, despite the rich contract until 2027 signed last summer.
Roberto Mancini, head coach of Saudi Arabia
In the press conference, the former Italy coach then explained: “I apologize, I didn't mean to disrespect anyone, I thought it was over,” said Mancini. “I would like to thank my players for what they did at this event. They have grown.” I am very happy and very sad at the same time. Happy because we have improved a lot, we have worked together for a month and that is very important. Now we are a team. Of course we still have to grow.”