Saudi Arabia are back at the World Cup for the first time since 2006. ‘The Green Falcons’ have been through a hard time recentlty. They lost their coach Bart van Marwijk to Australia just after their qualification. After him, the Argentinian Edgardo Bauza got appointed as the new coach but he lasted only for 2 months which brings us now to Juan Antonio Pizzi. Pizzi has coached Chille to the Copa America title in 2016 against Argentina but he failed to qualify them for the World Cup 2018 just after.
● Squad Analysis :
Pizzi will have to make lots of choices in this squad.
Saudi Arabia’s final squad:
Mohammed Al Owais (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Mosailem (Al Ahli), Abdullah Al Mayouf (Al Hilal).
○ Defenders: Mansoor Al Harbi (Al Ahli), Yasser Al Shahrani (Al Hilal) Mohammed Al Breik (Al Hilal), Motaz Hawsawi (Al Ahli), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al Nassr), Ali Al Bulaihi (Al Hilal).
○ Midfielders: Abdullah Al Khaibari (Al Shabab), Abdulmalek Al Khaibri (Al Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al Hilal), Taiseer Al Jassim (Al Ahli), Houssain Al Mogahwi (Al Ahli), Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno (both Al Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem Al Dawsari (Al Hilal), Yahya Al Shehri (Al Nassr), Fahad Al Muwallad (Al Ittihad).
○ Forwards: Mohammad Al Sahlawi (Al Nassr), Muhannad Assiri (Al Ahli).
The captain of this team is the thirty-four year-old Al Hilal defender Osama Hawsawi. He has 133 caps for his nation so experience is not a problem at all. The star man of this country is probably Al-Nassr striker Mohammad Al-Sahlawi. The forward has bagged an impressive 28 goals in his 36 international caps. The rising star must be midfielder Fahad Al-Muwallad who currently is on loan at Levante in La Liga. He’s also the one that scored the goal that qualifiied Saudi Arabia for the World Cup.
● Team Rating:
•Goalkeeper Rating 6/10
•Defence Rating, 5,5/10
•Midfield Rating, 6/10
Attack Rating, 6,5/10
•Overall Rating 6/10
● Past Record in WC :
The last time Saudi Arabia qualified for the World Cup was back in 2006. Their best performances were in the USA ’94’s one where they reached the last 16.
● Recent Form :
Saudi Arabia has not been very good recently. In their last 9 games they conceded 16 goals and they only won 3. But they also did not play against easy oponnents, they played against likes of Germany, Italy and Belgium which makes a good excuse.
● Manager’s Quote :
“I think we have to be more creative,” Pizzi said. “Goals don’t just come from strikers, it is about the team. We need to find ways to get the goals but there are other ways to score, not just with the striker. Maybe you can find other movements.
“We think we are doing things very well to get the whole team thinking about goals so it is not just about the strikers. We will be able to score and we will be able to compete.”
● Writer’s Take :
Saudi Arabia is drawn into the same group as the hosts Russia together with Egypt and Uruguay. I don’t see Saudi Arabia getting out of the group stages because they face 2 teams (Egypt and Uruguay) who are dangerous in attack. In my opinion, Saudi Arabia will not win a single game in their group unfortunately.