Liverpool joy in Champions League inspires Saudi Arabia for Gulf Cup, says Herve Renard

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Liverpool’s focused pursuit of the Champions League crown has inspired Saudi Arabia boss Herve Renard ahead of Sunday’s Gulf Cup final.

Al Shabab striker Abdullah Al Hamddan’s first-half goal on a charged night at Al Janoub Stadium saw the Green Falcons make the showpiece, at the expense of hosts Qatar. Outsiders Bahrain now stand in their way of a first regional crown since 2003/04, at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.

Renard’s men are red-hot favourites because of November 30’s 2-0 group-stage win, plus their advantage of 33 places in the FIFA rankings. The 2012 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner, however, took nothing for granted in his pre-match press conference and highlighted Liverpool’s ability to hold onto their second-minute lead last June versus Tottenham.

He said: “The final differs from facing Bahrain in the group stage in everything. We have to be at our best readiness in order to achieve victory.

“Everyone witnessed how Liverpool won the Champions League final where they scored after only two minutes. We do not look at the fact we have beaten Bahrain in the first encounter, but we look at the fact we are facing a team who aspires to win the title – just like us.

“Now we are playing the final, there is no room for mistakes. Most importantly, we are present and able to achieve the title absent from the Kingdom since 2003.”

Opposite number Helio Sousa led Bahrain to their first ever regional title after defeating Iraq 1–0 in August’s WAFF Championship. A second trophy would verge on the miraculous, although Oman did upset the UAE in 2017/18’s decider.

“We are trying to create better solutions and win the championship, this is our goal,” said the one-cap former Portugal midfielder. “We know the strength of the Saudi team that competes with us in the final.

“Our local league is semi-professional. The final is a special thing for us, that we must crown with getting the title.”

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