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."
|Folau in no rush to settle future amid Reds rumours|
|Degenkolb: I need two or three secretaries to manage congratulations!|
|Harrington v Garcia: When winning makes life tougher|
|Mafi and Timani fined by Rebels|
|Watson: Johnson and Woods can prosper at Carnoustie|
|Alderweireld hints at Tottenham departure|
|Maradona takes over as Dynamo Brest chairman|
|The Open 2018: Wounded animal Spieth is a danger to Carnoustie rivals|
|Wests´ Reynolds to miss the rest of 2018|
|Pussy Riot members jailed for World Cup final protest|
|Ronaldo capture boosts Serie A - Mourinho|
|Goals at three World Cups and 50 for the Socceroos – Cahill´s international career in numbers|
|Giroud: It´s coming home|
|Harper wins Home Run Derby in Nationals Park|
|Brighton sign Button from Fulham|
|Bolt set to trial with A-League club Central Coast Mariners|
|Thomas asks Seahawks for extension or trade|
|Walker doubts he´ll join Knicks, wants ´long´ stay at Hornets|
|Socceroos hero Cahill retires from internationals|
|Record income revenue for Barcelona|
|Kudla untroubled as Young bows out in Newport|
|Celtics still hoping to re-sign Smart|
|Villarreal sign highly rated Velez midfielder Caseres|
|Juventus signing Ronaldo should give Milan optimism – Kaka|
|Berrettini masters Mayer in Bastad|
|Manchester United and Ajax agree Daley Blind transfer|
|Familiarity with demands of Real Madrid an advantage – Lopetegui|
|Parmentier rallies to avoid Bucharest exit, Arruabarrena bows out in Gstaad|
|Steelers fail to sign Bell to long-term deal|
|Over 10 per cent of Croatia´s population welcomes World Cup heroes home|
|Thierry Henry quits pundit role to focus on coaching|
|France´s World Cup winners given heroes´ welcome in Paris|
|At the end we will see who is best - Ronaldo sidesteps Messi rivalry|
|Qatar? China? Ronaldo only has eyes for glory at Juventus|
|Proud Kane praises team-mates after Golden Boot win|
|The Open 2018 diary: Is that Tiger Woods? Harrington feels the Burn...|
|Porte targeting Vuelta after Tour de France anguish|
|Maradona madness, #WaistcoatWednesday, bruised Batshuayi - Alternative World Cup awards|
|It could be the best time - Martinez hints at Hazard Chelsea exit|
|England call up Billings as cover for injury doubt Roy|
|McIlroy on track for fitting major haul - Harrington|
|Froome plays down Thomas battle for Sky supremacy|
|Carnoustie record counts for little at The Open, says Fleetwood|
|I don´t see it - Napoli chief De Laurentiis plays down talk of Callejon-Suso swap|
|One or two changes required at Chelsea, says Sarri|
|Monaco confirm Golovin approach|
|Let´s keep making noise! - Serena dedicates Wimbledon run to fellow mothers|
|Full list of Open tee times|
|Fakhar inspires another big Pakistan ODI win|
|Spieth ´annoyed´ by re-watch of 13th hole|
|Kaka claims Ronaldo arrival will boost all Italian clubs|
|Spieth vows to be more artist than tactician in Open defence|
|Conte thanks Chelsea players, staff and fans|
|Rodgers: I´d love to play with the Packers to 40|
|Sevilla insist N´Zonzi will cost €40m|
|Hugill shows mystic powers with accurate World Cup predictions|
|World Cup 2018: FARE ready for post-tournament challenges in Russia|
|Woods grouped with Matsuyama and Knox at Open|
|Matthaus questions idea of French dynasty|
|Chandimal, Sri Lanka coach and manager banned for two Tests and four ODIs|
|Sassuolo demand at least €30m for Berardi|
|French media revels in ´crazy´ triumph|
|Mafi released on bail after alleged assault|
|Bierhoff must go! Berthold calls for Germany changes|
|Joshua to fight Povetkin in September|
|World Cup 2018: Goal-laden final adds to staggering World Cup stats|
|Runners and Ryders: Molinari impresses again as stars prepare for The Open|
|Macron to greet France team after Champs Elysees parade|
|Casillas and Suarez critical of VAR after World Cup final|
|TMO protocol clearly not working, says SANZAAR|