The Saudi Arabian football team were down under in the Asian zone for over a decade, but the glory days are back with the team qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 2006.
The Green Falcons made it to the World Cup four times previously, all in succession since their first at the 1994 edition in USA. Their most memorable performance is in their first edition itself when they made it to the round of 16 beating Belgium and Morocco in the group phase. However, they haven’t won a game since; lost 7 games out of 9 and crashed out in the group stage in all 3 appearances.
Saudi Arabia achieved direct qualification for the World Cup this time by finishing second in their group just behind Japan and surpassing Australia on goal aggregate. They were joint top scorers in the qualifying phase along with Japan with 17 goals to their name.
Mohammad Al-Sahlawi is arguably the best player Saudi Arabian has produced in over a decade. The Al-Nassr forward netted 16 goals for his team in the road to Russia, taking over from first qualifying round. Besides, Al-Sahlawi is Saudi Arabia’s 6th goal scorer of all time.
Another player to watch out for is Nawaf Al-Abed who plays his club football with Al Hilal. The 28 years old netted 5 goals in the Green Falcons qualification phase of the competition, some of those were game changers.
The Final Verdict
Despite the green patch, Saudi Arabia lack leadership at the top and this is what prompt their board to hire former Chile head-coach Juan Antonio Pizzi as their manager back in November 2017. Pizzi doesn’t have a strong CV as his previous stint with the talented South Americans was a disaster. Chile were third in the table before the 3-0 defeat to Brazil on final match day and subsequently fell to sixth on the log.
Without a doubt, the Green Falcons are huge underdogs in group A that contains talented sides like Uruguay, Egypt and the host nation Russia. They are poised to finish at the bottom of the pool and this is something you can add to your pre-tournament bet slip.