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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Saudi secret weapon
Saudi Arabia captain Sami Al-Jaber
Saudi Arabia have forged a solid team spirit
Saudi Arabia are planning to unleash a secret weapon at the World Cup to fire them through the group stages.

The Saudis are in Group E along with Ireland, Germany and Cameroon and will be seen by the other sides as the weak link.

They are in the World Cup finals for the third straight time but after reaching the second round in 1994 were disappointing in France four years ago.

But after a series of unsuccessful foregin managers, new coach Nasser Al-Johar led them to victory in the Gulf Cup this year and has forged a strong team spirit.

Open Quote
I wouldn't consider us the weakest of our group
Close Quote
Prince Turki bin Khalid

"Our secret weapon is the Saudi attitude - our refusal to lose," said Prince Turki bin Khalid, head of the national team delegation.

"We consider the World Cup to be our stage to show the world our football and we have good faith in our players.

"The coach is our danger man. The players like him very much, they think of him as a father figure.

"We have no diamonds - we play as a group and all the players are heroes."

And Bin Khalid warned opponents that they would be no pushover.

Good mood

"I'm sure we'll play good games and we certainly won't be an easy team to face," he said.

"I wouldn't consider us the weakest of our group. Perhaps we are not as physical as Cameroon, Germany and Ireland but we don't plan to play their way.

"We have other strengths which will give us the edge.

"If the others want to beat Saudi Arabia then they will have to play at their best and Saudi Arabia at their worst.

"We've had big games in the past so our players are used to it."

The Saudi squad are in good health and competition for places in the starting line up is intense.

And the mood at the team hotel ahead of their first match - against Germany in Sapporo on 1 June - is one of eager anticipation.

"The team cannot wait for the World Cup to start. They are so anxious. Everyone is in a good mood but everyone is fighting hard for a starting position," Bin Khalid said.

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GROUP E
  P GD PTS
GERMANY 3 +10 7
IRELAND 3 +3 5
CAMEROON 3 -1 4
SAUDI ARABIA 3 -12 0

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