Saudi coach says team is on improve ahead of Asian Cup

SAUDI Arabia's coach Cosmin Olaroiu says his team is heading in the right direction despite a second consecutive loss ahead of the Asian Cup.

The Romanian has been in charge for just three weeks, taking over from Spaniard Juan Ramon Lopez Caro who was axed after the Saudi team was beaten 2-1 by Qatar in the final of the Gulf Cup in November.

Olaroiu made a host of changes for his first game in charge, a 4-1 loss to Bahrain last week in Geelong.

The new-look side followed that result with a 2-0 loss to South Korea in Parramatta on Sunday night, the former coach of Saudi clubs Al Hilal and Al Ain saying he had been encouraged by the improvement.

"I'm happy that they played for 60 minutes very well," said Olaroiu (pictured), whose side lost by virtue of an own goal from Osama Hawsawi and a late strike from Lee Jeong-hyeop.

"Now we have made one step forward in terms of organisation on the field."

Saudi Arabia, a three-time winner of the Asian Cup, has drawn alongside Uzbekistan, North Korea and China in Group B, and kicks off its tournament against China in Brisbane on Saturday night.

Apart from the short preparation window, Olaroiu said fatigue loomed as the biggest problem for his players.

"The problem is that they cannot improve, it's difficult to improve if we're going to play every four days," he said. "So the most important thing is to recover. To prepare will be impossible in terms of the physical condition over a couple of days."

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