DOHA — Amid jubilation that reverberates within the Kingdom and all over the Arab world following Saudi Arabia’s stunning victory over Argentina in one of the biggest shocks in the World Cup’s history, the business is as usual for the Green Falcons.
The Saudi national squad members resumed their hectic training session on Wednesday at Sealine Resort Stadium under the supervision of Coach Herve Renard in preparation for their second game in Group C of the World Cup 2022.
The Saudi team will meet Poland on Saturday, Nov. 26. The Green Falcons then take on Mexico next Tuesday, Nov. 29 in the last match. Leading the training session on Wednesday, Renard expressed satisfaction with the session.
The Green Falcons will continue their preparations on Thursday with a training session at 4 pm, as it will be open to the media in the first quarter of an hour.
Meanwhile, midfielder Riyad Sharahili, who had suffered a muscle injury, continued his special training, accompanied by the medical staff. On the other hand, the medical examinations for the Saudi squad’s captain Salman Al-Faraj revealed that he had an injury to the shin bone after he was forced out of the match with Argentina. Renard said on Tuesday that Al-Faraj will not play in the remaining matches.
Both Poland and Mexico are probably still favorites against Saudi Arabia — despite the upset. Renard, the architect of Tuesday’s historic win, was fully aware of this reality and he is so cautious about the toughness of the forthcoming matches. This was manifested in his comments in the post-match press conference on Tuesday.
“We made history for Saudi football and it will stay forever. This is the most important, but we also need to think about looking forward because we still have two games that are very very difficult for us,” he said.
Renard said he asked his players to limit the celebration after the game to 20 minutes. “That’s all,” he said. “But there are still two games — or more.”
Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais, one of the star performers of Tuesday’s historic win, is also hopeful of continuing the winning streak against Poland and Mexico. “We have prepared ourselves. We were 100 percent ready and hopefully, we will have better results in the future.”
Al-Owais caught almost everything that came his way in the match at the packed Lusail Stadium and foiled numerous desperate attempts by Lionel Messi and his squad members to equalize the game in the last minutes. Despite trailing 1-0 at halftime after a 10th-minute goal from Messi, perhaps the greatest soccer player of all time, Saleh Alshehri and Salem Al-Dawsari managed to score a goal each early in the second half.
Many had expected the South American team, ranked third in the world, unbeaten for three years and among the favorites to lift the World Cup, to sweep aside its opponent, ranked 51st in the world and 48 places below Argentina in the world rankings.
Argentina dominated the first half and went ahead through Messi’s first-half penalty. But a stunning fight back from Saudi Arabia after the break saw Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari score in the span of five minutes to leave Argentina defeated for the first time since June 2019, a run of 36 incredible matches. It has been described as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history as Al-Shehri and Al Dawsari’s brilliant quick-fire double secured them a huge win.
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