Saudi football chief brands Mancini penalty walkout ‘unacceptable’

The president of Saudi Arabian football said Roberto Mancini’s disappearing act before the end of the penalty shootout in the team’s Asian Cup exit was “completely unacceptable”.

The Italian did not stick around to see South Korea’s Hwang Hee-chan eliminate his Saudi side in the last 16 in Doha with the decisive spot-kick.

Following a 1-1 draw, South Korea won 4-2 on penalties on Tuesday and will face Australia in the quarter-finals in Qatar.

Mancini, 59, apologised afterwards for walking down the tunnel before their fate was sealed, saying: “I thought it was finished.”

But Saudi Football Federation president Yasser Al-Misehal made clear his unhappiness in an interview with Saudi broadcaster SSC.

“The coach’s exit is completely unacceptable and we will discuss with him why this happened,” he said.

“He has the right to explain his point of view and then we will decide the appropriate action.”

Mancini took Italy to European Championship glory in 2021 and was appointed Saudi coach in August last year on a deal until 2027, taking him beyond the next World Cup.

It was reported that he was offered more than $25 million to join the big-spending Saudis, who are set to host the World Cup in 2034. BSS

Mancini’s job does not appear to be at immediate risk, despite the defeat extending Saudi Arabia’s wait for a fourth continental crown. They lost won it in 1996.

“Technically we are satisfied with the performance presented in the Asian Cup,” said Misehal, adding: “I do not like to rush into anything.”

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