Saudi Arabia - World Cup Preview
Updated: May 17, 2018
History in the World Cup
The 2018 edition in Russia will be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s 5th appearance at the event. The Middle Eastern nation qualified 5 consecutive times between 1994 & 2006 but only managed to get out of the Group stage once – in 1994. They have not won a game since that edition, drawing 2 and losing 7 of their 9 games since. The 2002 tournament in particular stands out as a nightmarish occasion as the Sauds lost all 3 games, conceding 12 without reply. They will therefore looking to banish the nightmares and set the record straight in Russia.
Since the last World Cup, Saudi Arabia have managed 23 wins, 8 draws and 15 losses, including a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Iraq in February. The Arab giants, like other Asian nations, have played a lot of inferior teams in this period to boost their win ratio but have struggled when faced with quality teams. In 2018, they have tried to prepare for the tournament by raising the standard and have found it tough going. In the 5 matches played this year, Saudi Arabia have conceded 9 goals and lost 2 and drawn 1 of those games – the loses by margins of greater than 3 goals. However, they managed to keep a clean sheet against Algeria in their last outing. The results could be put down to squad rotation but it remains to be seen if the Saudis can up their game for the tournament.
Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi
Goalkeepers: Abdullah Al-Mayouf, Yasser Al-Mossailem, Fawaz Al-Qirni, Mohammed Al-Owais
Defenders: Mansoor Al-Harbi, Osama Al-Hamsawi, Mohammad Jahfali, Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Al-Breik, Saeed Al-Mowalad, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Ali Al Bulaihi, Motaz Hawsawi
Midfielders: Salman Al-Faraj, Yahya Al-Shehri, Abdulmalek Al-Khaibri, Abdullah Otayf, Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Ibrahim Ghaleb, Taisir Al-Jissim, Salem Al-Dawsari, Hattan Bahebri, Mohammed Al-Kwikbi, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abed, Hossain Al-Mogahwi
Forwards: Harounne Camara, Mohammed Al-Sahlawi, Muhannad Assiri
Sameer Al-Dawsari will be one of the prime creators in this side. The Villareal midfielder brings bags of pace and dribbling ability to the table. He started his career as a winger but I suspect he could play in a central role behind goalscorer Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. His dribbling ability will help Saudi Arabia get past the press of Uruguay and help unlock the Egyptian or Russian defences. Al-Dawsari must bring his A-game if Saudi Arabia are to progress past the group stages.
FIFA : Current - 70
Highest - 21
ELO : Current - 67
Highest - 27
This article is a one amongst a series covering the teams of the 2018 World Cup.
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