Saudi Arabia manager Herve Renard's team talk inspired Argentina win

‘We have a crazy coach’: Saudi Arabia manager Herve Renard’s inspired team talk was the reason for their shock comeback to win against Argentina, midfielder Abdulellah Al-Malki reveals

  • Saudi Arabia’s manager gave an inspired team talk to instigate their comeback 
  • Midfielder Abdulellah Al-Malki hailed ‘crazy’ Herve Renard for the shock win 
  • They came from 1-0 down at half-time to beat tournament favourites Argentina
  • Read more of Sportsmail’s latest World Cup stories on the tournament page 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Saudi Arabia’s ‘crazy’ manager Herve Renard gave the half-time team talk of his life to inspire their fightback against Argentina on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi’s early penalty gave his country the lead, and the damage could have been worse for Saudi Arabia, except for three goals ruled offside by the officials.

But midfielder Abdulellah Al-Malki revealed after the game that Renard’s words in the break were all the inspiration that they needed to score twice in the second half without reply to secure one of the World Cup’s greatest shocks in living memory.

Herve Renard’s inspirational half-time team talk inspired Saudi Arabia’s unlikely comeback

Al-Malki told the Alkass Sports channel: ‘We have a crazy coach. He motivated us during half-time, telling us stuff that made us want to eat the grass [run themselves into the ground].’

His motivational work was also an important factor pre-game, as they went into the Group C clash as massive underdogs against one of the tournament favourites.

‘Before the game, in the pre-game talk with the coach, I swear to God I was crying,’ Al-Malki revealed. ‘He motivated us to the extent that we couldn’t wait for the game to begin.’

Renard, 54, has had a long career in the management game, with success at the African Cup of Nations with Zambia and the Ivory Coast.

He became the first Frenchman to manage Saudi Arabia when he took on the post in July 2019, and just over three years later, he guided the country to their shock win.

Midfielder Abdulellah Al-Malki said he was ‘moved to tears’ by Renard’s pre-game thoughts

Renard praised the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a controversial figure, in the wake of their 2-1 victory. Renard said: ‘When I decided to coach this team three years ago I found all the support. We have a great federation president and also the Ministry of Sports.

‘When we met with the prince [bin Salman], he did not put any pressure on us, and this is wonderful. Being pressured does not work often.’

While the result led to jubilant celebrations among the players, staff and fans, they have vowed not to rest on their laurels as they look to qualify for the knock-out stages for the first time since 1994.

Renard has said Saudi Arabia have ‘two difficult games’ to focus on despite Argentina victory

‘We made history for Saudi football, it will stay forever. That is the most important thing,’ Renard said. ‘But we have to look forward — we have two difficult games for us ahead.’

Saudi Arabia’s World Cup campaign continues in just four days, with a match against Poland, who drew 0-0 with Mexico in Group C’s other opening fixture on Tuesday. They will then face the Mexicans in the final group stage game on November 30. 

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