Embattled Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi revealed the team has received no official explanation for the fire that affected their flight to Rostov-on-Don, where they will seek to bounce back from a humiliating 5-0 defeat suffered against Russia in the opening match of the World Cup.
Saudi Arabia have endured the toughest start to the tournament of any side, as the unexpected thrashing at the hands of the relatively unfancied hosts was followed by a minor mid-air emergency during an internal flight from their training base near St Petersburg, as they prepare for a daunting assignment against Uruguay.
While Pizzi claimed the squad had faith in the pilot and crew and did not panic during the incident, he was surprised to hear an official statement had been released by the Russian transport authorities, with the players and staff apparently still unaware of the exact cause of the problem.
"Well, as for the event yesterday [Monday], you've seen the pictures, they speak for themselves, but we don't know anything else, we have had no further info," he said.
"We didn't feel afraid, we trust the pilots, we were cool and calm. The pictures point to some emergency but we didn't feel concerned and it won't affect our performance."
| يبدأ بعد قليل المؤتمر الصحفي للمدير الفني للمنتخب خوان بيتزي واللاعب تيسير الجاسم وذلك في قاعة المؤتمرات في ملعب روستوف أرينا، للحديث عن مباراة الأوروغواي.#معاك_يالأخضر#worldcup2018 pic.twitter.com/HlepIwavce— المنتخب السعودي (@SaudiNT) June 19, 2018
The Saudi defence proved singularly ill-equipped to cope with a Russia side that had not won any of their past seven friendly matches, and the challenge is only set to increase against Uruguay's heavyweight front two, Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain.
Somewhat optimistically, Pizzi insisted the focus of the Saudi team will not merely be suppressing the threat posed by Uruguay's attackers, but repairing the damage done to their reputation in the humiliation against Russia.
"All the matches are different and tactical plans are also differ depending on your opponent," Pizzi said.
"Also, individual qualities of players tend to differ. Precisely because, as you rightly said, they have two players in attack who are world-class players.
"We have other priorities, more important than worrying about Cavani and Suarez. We have to prove we are at the same level of quality as they are."
Midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim, meanwhile, claimed his team-mates have already put the defeat in Moscow and the engine fire behind them and are determined to restore the faith of supporters in the team.
"Now that we have come to the hotel we have forgotten all the events that took place," he said.
"We are focused on the match with Uruguay. Each and every player aims at changing the image that we have conveyed because it is not the true image of Saudi football."
|Diamondbacks rout Cubs to remain in postseason picture|
|Modric embraces Ballon d´Or chants as Di Francesco backs Madrid star for award|
|MLS Review: Martinez helps Atlanta stage comeback amid VAR controversy|
|Kerevi recommits to Wallabies, Reds|
|Lyon to ban fan for life after footage of Nazi salute emerges|
|Milan must respect opponents – Gattuso not underestimating Dudelange|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Zarate leads Boca, River draw|
|Mourinho: Dalot can play at Man United for more than 10 years|
|Johnson hoping to erase East Lake demons|
|´No question´ Fitzgerald faces Bears, says Cardinals´ Wilks|
|Rodgers says roughing the passer penalties are ´going the wrong direction´|
|Ravens fined $200,000 for violating communication policy|
|LeBron James set to star in ´Space Jam´ sequel|
|Ronaldo red card ´absurd´, says Pjanic|
|Kovac hails ´special´ Sanches after Bayern goal|
|Marcelino: Tearful Ronaldo said he did nothing wrong|
|Fernandinho takes blame for Man City´s Lyon loss|
|Lovren denies any wrongdoing after perjury charge|
|Plzen boss Vrba slams late mistakes|
|I almost scored as many as Messi - Tagliafico the unlikely hero for Ajax|
|Ronaldo deserves Ballon d´Or not Modric, says Casemiro|
|United fan Rafael - I´ve never lost at City|
|Davis explains abrupt mid-game NFL retirement: ´Football is not for me´|
|Lopes pays tribute to under-fire Lyon coach Genesio|
|Toulon´s Bastareaud handed five-week ban|
|Steelers WR Brown disciplined for missing meeting|
|Arteta refuses to make excuses for Manchester City´s Lyon loss|
|Allegri calls for VAR after Ronaldo´s contentious red card|
|Championship Review: Boro go second, Birmingham still winless|
|Lopetegui: Mariano took his chance|
|Juventus proved their quality after Ronaldo red card - Bonucci|
|Pogba ´class´ impresses Mourinho|
|Man City not Champions League favourites, insists Bernardo Silva|
|Isco calls for Modric to win Ballon d´Or after Champions League win|
|Wawrinka into last eight in St Petersburg|
|Goal hero Pogba is one of the best in the world - Shaw|
|Sane SOS can´t salvage sorry City display|
|Hoffenheim will learn lessons from Shakhtar draw, insists Nagelsmann|
|Valencia 0 Juventus 2: Pjanic hits the spot after Ronaldo sees red|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 CSKA Moscow 2: Krmencik heroics undone by late show|
|Benfica 0 Bayern Munich 2: Sanches returns to haunt his former club|
|Young Boys 0 Manchester United 3: Pogba double inspires Red Devils|
|Manchester City 1 Lyon 2: Cornet and Fekir stun Champions League favourites at home|
|Real Madrid 3 Roma 0: Isco stunner sets up winning start for Champions League holders|
|Ronaldo sent off on Champions League debut for Juve and may miss United reunion|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Hoffenheim 2: Maycon denies Nagelsmann´s side|
|Ajax 3 AEK Athens 0: Tagliafico at the double in opening win|
|Dalot makes debut, Martial starts for Manchester United|
|India avenge ICC Champions Trophy loss with big win over Pakistan|
|Ronaldo makes Champions League debut for Juve|
|Lopetegui picks Navas over Courtois for Champions League clash with Roma|
|Willian very happy under Sarri after Conte row|
|Sarri deals blow to Chelsea kids´ Europa League hopes|
|Mendy out for Manchester City as Aguero makes bench|
|Cech accepts performances key to securing Arsenal stay|
|Monchi rules out Spain return amid Barcelona rumours|
|Durham skittled for 61 and 66 on the same day|
|Kane isn´t a machine – Lamela defends misfiring Spurs star|
|Hazard left out of Chelsea squad for PAOK trip|
|Tiger feels close to ending drought after achieving Tour Championship goal|
|Leno in line for Arsenal chance in Europa League|
|Gazidis leaves Arsenal in good shape, insists Emery|
|Eagles bring back WR Matthews, place Wallace on IR|
|England include Stokes, Hales and uncapped seamer Stone in ODI squad|
|Suwon Bluewings 0 Jeonbuk Motors 3 (aet, 4-2 on penalties): Quarter-final comeback ends in spot-kick|
|Australia captain Paine ready to slog it out with Pakistan|
|Nadal pulls out of China Open & Shanghai Masters with knee injury|
|Ostapenko begins Korea Open defence with victory|
|Joshua v Povetkin: How Olympic super heavyweight champions have fared|
|Liverpool ´made a point´ with PSG victory - Gomez|