Former Italy and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini took to social media to publicly apologize for his early departure during the Asian Cup match between Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
The bizarre incident occurred during the last-16 penalty shootout, with Mancini seen walking down the tunnel before Hee-chan Hwang’s winning penalty had even been taken. The match had concluded 1-1 after extra time, and Mancini witnessed two of his players miss their penalties, leading to Hwang’s decisive shot.
Saudi Arabia coach Roberto Mancini left his team and the pitch before South Korea took their decisive penalty kick
— Italian Football News ???????? (@footitalia1) January 30, 2024
Post-match, Mancini addressed his unusual exit, stating, “I apologize for this because I thought it was finished, I didn’t want to disrespect anyone.”
However, the excuse didn’t sit well with Yasser al-Misehal, the president of the Saudi Football Federation, who deemed Mancini’s departure “unacceptable.” Al-Misehal asserted, “The coach’s exit is completely unacceptable, and we will discuss with him why this happened. He has the right to explain his point of view, and then we will decide the appropriate action.”
In an effort to extend his apology, Mancini turned to social media a day after the incident, expressing gratitude to the players and fans. “I’m really thankful to our brave players who showed resilience and character in a very tough game, they gave everything,” he stated. “Huge thanks to our fans who made an amazing atmosphere yesterday. We worked hard to go very far in this tournament but fell short.”
Mancini reiterated his apology for the premature exit, saying, “Again I reiterate my apology to everyone for my early exit to the dressing room before the end of the penalty shootout. With your support and trust, we continue to build for the future of Saudi football.”
The last-16 exit sees Saudi Arabia matching their performance in 2019 but failing to reach the heights achieved in 2007 and 2004 when they were runners-up, following their championships in 1984, 1988, and 1996.