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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Job safe for Saudi coach
Saudi Arabia coach Nasser Al Johar
Al Johar has the backing of the Saudi Prince
Saudi Arabia coach Nasser Al Johar will not be sacked even if he fails to deliver a royal command and guide them into the second round of the World Cup.

Prince Nawaf Bin Faisal Bin Fahd Bin Abdulaziz has told Al Johar he expects the Saudis to qualify from a group that contains the Republic of Ireland, Germany and Cameroon.

But the 56-year-old coach - who stepped down at the start of the World Cup qualifiers before returning - has already been assured his job is safe ahead of the Saudis' opener against Germany on Sunday.

Open Quote
Al Johar will continue in his work whatever the results are
Close Quote
Saudi Prince

Abdulaziz, also head of the Saudi Arabian Football Association, said: "As for the coach and the technical staff, we do not ask them to do more than they are required.

"We trust them and they deserve that. Al Johar will continue in his work whatever the results are."

Reports have circulated that the Saudi FA wanted a big name to spearhead their campaign, but Al Johar - last year's Asian coach of the year - kept hold of the reins.

"We are sure we can make our way into the second round and we have not had any other thoughts in our heads except those," said Abdulaziz.

"My players are ready for round two and I am sure we can do it. My players are preparing for just that."

Al Johar's second spell in charge of the national team began when he took over from the sacked Milan Macala in the middle of the 2000 Asian Cup finals.

He responded by taking them to the final, where they lost to World Cup co-hosts Japan, before stepping down soon after for new coach Slobodan Santrac, who was installed to lead their bid for a third successive World Cup finals.

Saudi Arabia midfielder Mohammed Nour al-Hossawi, captain Sami al-Jaber and midfielder Abdullah Sulaimane Zubromawi
Saudi Arabia will hope to do better than in France 98

Al Johar then rescued the faltering campaign. "Our level of where we are at will not be measured just by our performances at this World Cup," said the Prince.

"We are progressing and we are developing. It will not be the final result for Saudi football as we are continuing to plan for the future.

"We sincerely hope that our dreams can come true and I hope the players will perform to the level that is required of them."

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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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