group, player, coach, date… all about the team

Calendar (French time) in group C

November 22: Argentina-Saudi Arabia, at the Lusail stadium (11 a.m., BeIN Sports 1)

November 26: Poland-Saudi Arabia, at the Education City stadium (2 p.m., BeIN Sports 1)

November 30: Saudi Arabia-Mexico, at the Lusail stadium (8 p.m., BeIN Sports 2)

Their nickname: the Green Hawks or the Greens. We will adopt the first name to avoid any confusion with a famous French club which now plays in Ligue 2. The color of the flag of Saudi Arabia refers to the green of Islam. And the falcon is an emblem of the local culture, where falconry is elevated to the rank of art.

The group of 26:

Guardians: Mohammed Al-Owais, Nawaf Al-Aqidi, Mohammed Al Rubaie Al-Yami.

Defenders: Yasser Al-Shahrani, Hassan Al-Tambakti, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Abdullah Mado, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Saud Abdulhamid, Sultan Al-Ghanam, Mohammed Al-Breik.

Environments : Salman Al-Faraj, Riyadh Sharahili, Ali Al-Hassan, Mohamed Kanno, Abdulelah Al-Malki, Sami Al-Najei, Abdullah Otayf, Nasser Al-Dawsari, Abdulrahman Al-Aboud, Salem Al-Dawsari, Hattan Bahebri.

Forwards: Nawaf Al-Abed, Haitham Asiri, Saleh Al-Shehri, Firas Al-Buraikan.

Better Qatar than ever. The Saudis are about to play their sixth final phase. Since their debut in 1994 – the year in which they had their best run, by reaching the round of 16 – they have only missed the World Cup twice in 2010 and 2014. In 2018, they did not cross the first round, as in their previous three attempts.

The coach: Herve Renard, 53 years. This football globetrotter is not only known for his impeccable haircut and his immaculately white shirt, he has already won two African Cups of Nations (CAN) with Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire, but fell short in his only appearance at a World Cup. It was in 2018, at the head of Morocco, eliminated with two defeats and a draw. In command of Saudi Arabia since 2019, it was extended for five years in May.

Hervé Renard in Moscow, during the 2018 World Cup.

For his first tournament, in 2019, he had reached the final of the Gulf Cup of Nations, defeated by the Bahrain team. In 2021, however, it failed in the first round of the Arab Cup, beaten by Jordan (1-0), held in check by Palestine (1-1) and definitively eliminated by Morocco (1-0). The competition was held in Qatar and served as a mini-rehearsal for the World Cup.

Summary note from the cabinet Le Monde

The strong points : the Saudis dominated a very tough qualifying group, beating Japan, Australia and also China. They have lost only once (in Japan) in ten games, for seven wins and two draws. They forced the Australians to compete in the play-offs. On the lands of their Qatari neighbor, rival in the region, the kingdom’s footballers should not be surprised by the climate and will have a surplus of motivation to do better than the host country. Most of its workforce plays in four Saudi clubs: Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Shahab and Ittihad Jeddah. An advantage in terms of cohesion and team spirit. Hervé Renard is not bothered by travel and can count on perfect preparation conditions.

The weak spots : Saudi Arabia was not spared from the draw, which pits them against the Argentines, the formidable Mexicans, who beat the German world champions in 2018, and the Poles of star striker Robert Lewandowski, transferred from Bayern Munich at Barca. The fact that all the players evolve within the local championship can be an advantage but has disadvantages. There aren’t really any stars and no international has experience in the top European leagues. In 2018, the adventure ended in the first round after two defeats against Uruguay and Russia despite a victory against Egypt.

Cabinet rating (out of 5): 1.5. It would take a miracle for Saudi footballers to be able to repeat the feat of their glorious predecessors of 1994 or even win even one match like in 2018 (2-1 against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt). Instead, we bet on three defeats in the first round. In Saudi Arabia, we have oil but hardly any football resources.

Keep an eye on him

Salem Al-Dawsarithis twirling midfielder has a very fine technique and loves to score very aesthetic goals. He is a one-club man, the prestigious Riyadh-based Al-Hilal, which has won the league 18 times, including five times in the last six seasons. Al-Dossari has twice won the Asian Champions League. In 2017, the Saudi played a meeting with the Spanish club Villareal before quickly returning to the fold.

Imagine Arsene…

that one of the best goals in the history of the World Cup was scored by a Saudi player. On June 29, 1994, Saudi Arabia, defeated by the Netherlands but winner of Morocco, faces the Belgian favorite for a place in 8e of final. In Washington, no one is betting on the Saudis. But at the 5e minute of play, Saeed Al-Owairan performs a Maradonesque slalom. In his own half, he takes the ball, dribbles four opponents, escapes two tackles before placing the ball over goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme. “It’s the best goal of my life. » You surprise me…


If you have decided to boycott…

there is little chance that you will visit the Saudi neighbor instead, but you could see there in particular the Jebel Al-Gara, a maze of limestone concretions, nestled in the heart of the oasis of Al-Ahsa. Otherwise, we recommend the books of the novelist Hanaa Hijazia doctor by training, or the young poet and feminist activist Nimah Ismail Nawwab.

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