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Saturday / November 17.

Great Kahn tutors KSA | Arab News

LISBON: The man between the sticks for Saudi Arabia in tonight’s friendly with Bulgaria will be hoping for a quiet evening. One delegate traveling with the Gulf nation is keen for the exact opposite.
Oliver Kahn, the illustrious Germany goalkeeper, retired from playing in 2008 but now runs his own company, GoalPlay, with business partner Moritz Mattes. Last month, they signed a partnership agreement with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) to help improve the level of goalkeeping in the country with one eye on next summer’s Fifa World Cup. Both men have traveled with SAFF for this month’s training camp in Portugal.
Edgardo Bauza selected three goalkeepers for the 12-day camp: Waleed Abdullah, Abdullah Al-Mayouf and Mohammed Al-Owais. In the 3-0 defeat to Portugal on Friday night, Al Owais faced 26 shots and had to deal with 10 corners. It was exactly what Kahn wanted. It is difficult, after all, to judge a goalkeeper if he spends the majority of a match leaning against an upright.
“We as GoalPlay are working together with the Saudi national team to try to help improve them before the World Cup in Russia,” Kahn told Arab News on the sidelines of a recent training session. “It’s our job to bring them up to the best possible level of goalkeeping. This is day one essentially. We start now.”
In truth, Kahn’s work started last month. He has been studying Saudi Premier League matches from afar as well as the national team’s unofficial friendlies with Jamaica and Ghana. While he intends to visit the Kingdom “at least once a month”, Friday’s game against Portugal in Viseu was his first opportunity to analyze live from inside the stadium.
“I had seen the national team goalkeepers on TV and we had already made initial analysis,” said Kahn, who played in Germany’s 8-0 win over Saudi at the 2002 World Cup. “Now we get to work with them a little and see where they can improve. I think they are good players, but you can work with every goalkeeper in the world and improve them, and that’s our aim.”
When Kahn retired, he finished his career at Bayern Munich with three successive clean sheets. The potential for improvement is limitless and never-ending, he said.
“Even I, when I was 38, was still working on some details,” he added. “You are never finished getting better. We have analyzed everything and now we go in and work together with the national team to try to make them better so they can perform at the highest level at the World Cup.”
While the short-term goal is to help the national team, Kahn has also been tasked with improving the goalkeeping coaching standards across the country through the creation of an Oliver Kahn International Academy inside the Kingdom.
“Our long-term goal is to establish an education system, and for that we have the possibility of training the coaches in Saudi Arabia with our philosophy, knowledge and system,” Kahn said. “This will all combine to bring the goalkeeping to the highest level in this country.”
Saudi have not had a standout shot-stopper since Mohammed Al-Deayea retired in 2006 after being named Asia’s Goalkeeper of the Century. He racked up 178 international caps over the course of a 13-year career to become the most-capped goalkeeper ever. Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon is expected to collect his 175th tonight against Sweden.

via AN