A day after Saudi Arabia’s historic win in opposition to Argentina on the Qatar World Cup, the Kingdom’s sports activities minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal says he’s “ready for somebody to wake me up.”
“It’s been an unbelievable end result. The group performed very well, they ready for 3 years for at the present time, the coach (Hervé Renard) did a tremendous job,” Prince Abdulaziz advised CNN’s Becky Anderson in Doha on Wednesday as he mirrored on Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 win, which is seen as the most important ever World Cup upset.
“There’s concord and a very good feeling inside the group … they fought from the guts to ship one thing.”
Celebrations for the exceptional victory continued properly into the night on Tuesday and early Wednesday.
The fan zone space was imbued with the colour inexperienced as individuals waved the Saudi flag with delight. Saudi and Arab followers alike had been chanting, singing and dancing in euphoria. One fan known as it a “big event for the Arab world.”
“I really feel completely superb,” a Saudi fan advised CNN. “It was a stupendous sport. We beat them with Messi! Argentina truly one of many favorites to win the sport, they had been unbeaten, 36 video games. However guess who beat them? Saudi Arabia!”
Assem Al Rajihi, one other Saudi fan mentioned: “On this match, it’s in Qatar, which is a close-by nation, a rustic we love. I feel lots of the followers are coming from shut international locations, so I feel the environment may be very near us. The tradition is there, so we’re motivated to do our greatest.”
That sentiment was echoed by Prince Abdulaziz, who advised CNN that the celebrations weren’t only for Saudi Arabia, however for the complete Arab and Muslim world.
This Saudi victory is rather more than David beating Goliath.
On Tuesday, a picture of Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani did the rounds on social media, together with a photograph of him smiling subsequent to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – scenes that may’ve been unthinkable simply 18 months in the past.
In 2017, Riyadh – together with three different Arab nations – reduce off diplomatic and commerce ties, shut down its borders and closed their airspace, accusing Doha of supporting extremist teams, allegations which it nonetheless denies.
Right this moment, that rift is properly and actually over, and Saudi Arabia clinching its largest soccer win on Qatari soil is testomony to that.
Prince Abdulaziz mentioned that main as much as the World Cup, many groups usually obtain a variety of criticism for his or her efficiency and coaching, together with Saudi Arabia, however that after Tuesday’s success, “no person can say something” concerning the Inexperienced Falcons.
These Inexperienced Falcons lined up in opposition to Argentina with 11 gamers based mostly within the Saudi Professional League and even featured substitute Haitham Asiri who performs in Saudi Arabia’s second division.
Alongside hosts Qatar, Saudi Arabia is the one group to solely have a squad made up of solely domestically based mostly gamers.
“We’ve invested so much in sports activities the final couple of years, and this showcases the outcomes … we’re actually restructuring sports activities within the Kingdom as an ecosystem, and how one can make it as skilled as wherever else on the earth, as a result of we all know Saudis are obsessed with sports activities,” mentioned Prince Abdulaziz.
“After I began within the Olympic committee, we had 30 federations. Right this moment, now we have 97 federations in numerous sports activities … that showcases that the nation is lively.
“We’re doing this stuff for the individuals within the nation, and it’s benefiting us huge time socially, economically on each degree,” added Prince Abdulaziz.
There was criticism directed to Saudi Arabia for sportswashing as an effort to melt the nation’s picture. Requested whether or not he believes these remarks are laced with a vein of racism, the minister concurred.
“A bit, and possibly additionally ignorance. Those that don’t know Saudi Arabia, have by no means been to Saudi Arabia, exit and speak about it as in the event that they’ve lived there for 30 years, 40 years. So I all the time inform individuals, come to Saudi. Come and see Saudi.
“See what it’s, see the individuals, meet the individuals. Have a look at what the nation is doing for the way forward for the individuals in Saudi, then you possibly can criticize as a lot as you want,” he mentioned.
In honor of the group’s historic win, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud ordered a nationwide public vacation for a day on Wednesday.
Manchester United introduced Tuesday that Cristiano Ronaldo is to go away the membership instantly by mutual settlement.
Requested by CNN if the 37-year-old soccer legend can be taking part in in Saudi Arabia subsequent season, the minister mentioned: “I don’t know.”
“I learn the identical factor you learn within the information, and we see a variety of issues about Saudi Arabia being talked about within the information, particularly when there’s huge cash round it however I don’t know something about what his future plans are,” he continued.
Becky Anderson adopted up by asking Prince Abdulaziz if he wish to see Ronaldo play in Saudi, and he replied, “Why not?”
“We have now a robust league. We have now in every group seven overseas gamers, and one on the bench and we wish to improve that. Our groups play within the prime degree of Asia, and soccer is powerful in Saudi.”
Manchester United’s homeowners have additionally introduced their intention to discover the sale of the long-lasting membership. Requested if Saudi Arabia would put in a bid, much like its takeover of Newcastle United final 12 months, Prince Abdulaziz didn’t affirm nor deny.
“The whole lot is feasible nowadays, however I don’t know concerning the details of those studies actually. We have a look at all alternatives, like every thing else, and we predict we consider that these alternatives come as soon as in a lifetime, and now we have to benefit from that in every thing we do.”