Roberto Mancini tried to explain why he left the Saudi Arabia bench while penalties were still being taken against Korea in the Asian Cup. A gesture that aroused fierce criticism and a lot of anger and whose justification appeared to be almost a total surrender in the face of a situation now out of control.
Roberto Mancini increasingly appears to be a lone man in command, in command of a national team that doesn't follow him and a nation that doesn't want him. Saudi Arabia's elimination against Korea in the Asian Cup has sparked new popular indignation towards the coach who has never fully accepted his role. And in a position that is difficult to defend, especially given his explanations for the gesture that enraged the Arab fans.
It's okay to lose, but not with an epilogue of this kind: the defeat against Korea in the Asian Cup was experienced as a disgrace by the Arab people who felt definitively betrayed by the national coach, Roberto Mancini. A wave of annoyance, if not profound contempt, for the final gesture immortalized by the cameras shortly before Korea kicked the qualifying penalty.
Mancini sees himself hugged by other members of the bench to follow the penalty shootout, suffering together with his players and the millions of fans glued to the TV. At stake are the quarter-finals of the Cup and much more, including the credibility of a national team that seeks redemption in the face of fierce criticism in the results. Then, immediately after Gharreb's missed shot, the second for Arabia, you see Mancini abandoning the group and heading towards the tunnel with his head down while everyone is still waiting to know whether Korea will qualify or not.
Mancini asphalted live by the Saudi Arabian legend: “Never met such a coward”
A gesture that was interpreted very badly by the Arab fans who considered it a lack of respect towards their own people, so much so that the offending video immediately spread on social media to which even the technical commissioner himself had to respond. In fact, in the post-match press conference, among the many questions, there was also the reason for that gesture. The answer? A disarming testimony of being in a moment of total personal confusion : “I apologize for having walked away during the penalty shootout” Mancini tried to explain, “I thought the match was over… Korea had two more chances to win. It was a moment in which I lost control. I apologize to you, the players and the fans”
Words that echo like thunder in the silence, also because the worst is yet to come. Saudi Arabia faced the Asian Cup in the worst possible way, between mistrust and disappointments, choices and performances that were never convincing. On the one hand the bitterness of having made a choice that never proved successful, on the other the disappointment of having cradled a dream that was only an illusion. Now, in Arabia everyone wants Mancini's head, which he himself seems to have offered on a silver platter.