Saudi Arabia’s central back Hamad Al Montashiri told reporters he will be under pressure in the World Cup to justify his reputation as 2005 Asian Footballer of the Year. I think Al Montashiri deserved the award, but he was also lucky because other nominated players, such as the Korean Ji Sung Park, the Iranian Ali Karimi, and his countryman Sami Al Jaber, were excluded from the awards in the last minute as they were not able to attend the ceremony that was held in Kuala Lumpur last year.
I believe the pressure on Al Montashiri in this tournament is due to the fact that none of the other available central defenders is good enough to play alongside him. Retha Tukar, who played in this position in the last few matches makes a lot of mistakes and he was basically behind most of the goals against the team in the last three friendly matches. Naif Al Ghadhi, who came as substitute to the injured Usama Al Muwallad, is just as bad as Tukar if not worse. The last choice is Ahmed Al Bahri, and imho he is the best to play here: he lacks the experience, but he is talented, calm, and fast. I don’t think Paqueta would choose him over Tukar, but I hope he would give him the chance to play.