AFC Asian Cup 2019, Team Preview: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia embarks on their search for their fourth Asian Cup title after Pizzi named a twenty-three man squad which includes four debutants.
Al-Wahda defender Abdulelah Al-Amri at 21 years remains the youngest member for the Green Falcons while their Captain Omar Hawsawi from Al-Nassr is the oldest at 33 years. The Central Asian team have been the finalists in six of their previous nine appearances and are aiming for a title finish at this year‘s Championships.
Saudi Arabia endured a disappointing campaign in Australia after being knocked out in the group stages. The suffered a shock defeat in their opening game against China. Though they came back strongly winning against North Korea, they were outclassed by Uzbekistan in their last league game and finished tenth. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi scored three goals for the Saudis in Australia.
Saudi Arabia entered the Asian Cup in 1984 held in Singapore and immediately captured the attention by clinching the title. With 19 victories from 44 games, they record a 43% win percentage. Their tally includes 12 defeats and 13 drawn games.
Saudi Arabia experienced a dreadful start to their World Cup campaign after a crushing 0-5 defeat to Russia. They came back strongly in their final two league games to lose by a solitary goal to Uruguay and 2-1 to Egypt in their final group game.
They have been reasonably active this calendar year having played 15 games out of which they won four games including their 2-0 victory over 43rd-ranked Greece.
Al-Hilal winger Salem Al-Dawsari loaned out to Villareal, had impressed them in their game against Real Madrid after setting up two goals which hauled them back to a hard-earned draw. He also scored their side‘s winning goal against Egypt during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He would be their go-to man as Saudi Arabia seek their fourth title at the Asian level.
Al-Ittihad striker Fahad Al-Muwallad would be their main goal scoring threat with his blistering pace on the ball. On loan to Spanish Club Levante, he would bring forth valuable experience from playing in the La Liga. He has shown exemplary composure in front of the goal, and The Green Falcons would rely on him to move ahead in the competition.
Tuesday, 08 January 2019: Saudi Arabia (69) vs North Korea (109) - Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai at 21:30 IST.
Saturday, 12 January 2019: Saudi Arabia (69) vs Lebanon (81) - Al-Maktoum Stadium, Dubai at 21:30 IST.
Thursday, 17 January 2019: Saudi Arabia (69) vs Qatar (93) - Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi at 21:30 IST.
Average Age: 26 years.
International Caps: 527.
International Goals: 38.
Head Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi (Spain).
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais (Al-Ahli), Waleed Abdullah (Al-Nassr), Mohammed Al Yami (Al-Batin).
Defenders: Mohammed Al-Breik (Al-Hilal), Yasir Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal), Ali Al-Bulaihi (Al Hilal), Mohammed Al-Fatil (Al-Ahli), Hamdan Al Shamrani (Al-Faisaly), Abdulelah Al-Amri (Al-Wahda), Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr) (Captain).
Midfielders: Salman Al-Faraj (Al-Hilal), Abdullah Otayf (Al-Hilal), Salem Al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal), Hussain Al-Mogahwi (Al-Ahli), Ayman Al Khulaif (Al-Ahli), Abdulrahman Ghareeb (Al-Ahli), Ibrahim Ghaleb (Al-Nassr), Yahya Al-Shehri (Al-Nassr), Abdullah Al-Khaibari (Al-Shabab), Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab), Abdulaziz Al-Bishi (Al-Faisaly).
Strikers: Fahad Al Muwallad (Al-Ittihad), Mohammed Al-Saiari (Al-Hazem).