11/30/2022
At Qatar 2022, FIFA World Cup Qatar, Saudi Arabia will be aiming to match their best performance in the competition years ago.

However, drawn in Group C in Qatar 2022 along with heavyweights Argentina, Poland and Mexico, it is a job said easier than done.

The Green Falcons have undergone a major transformation since appearing at Russia 2018, with a new coaching team in place and several fresh faces having broken into the side.

QATAR 2022 FIXTURES | SPECIAL PAGE

Despite beating Asian heavyweights Japan and Australia in the course of a relatively straight forward qualification campaign, Herve Renard’s side have come under the microscope for issues in front of goal of late.

The team from Middle East lost a pair of June friendlies, against Colombia and Venezuela, by the same 0-1 scoreline. Three months later, meetings with Ecuador and USA both finished goalless.

There have been encouraging signs nonetheless in Saudi Arabia’s form as they begin their FIFA World Cup preparations in earnest. A 1-0 success against North Macedonia on October 22 was followed four days later by a 1-1 draw with Albania.

Renard has a lot of faith in his wingers and their speed and skills on the ball, not least in Salem Al Dawsari, the Green Falcons’ most important player.

Thanks to the talent and form he has shown for the national team and for his club, Al Hilal, Al Dawsari is expected to have a big role to play at Qatar 2022.

One of the youngest players in the Saudi set-up, Firas Al Buraikan is another player to watch out for at Qatar 2022.

The 22-year-old destined for a long international career, a suspicion heightened by his status as one of few homegrown centre-forwards in Saudi domestic football.

In five FIFA World Cup appearances, the Green Falcons have progressed beyond the group stage only once, on their competition debut at USA 1994.

They will be trying to match it or even surpass that this time, though the job is easier said than done.

FIXTURES (all times IST)

Vs Argentina, November 22, 3.30pm at Lusail Stadium.

Vs Poland, November 26, 6.30pm at Education City Stadium.

Vs Mexico, December 1, 12.30am at Lusail Stadium.

SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Mohamed Al-Owais, Nawaf Al-Aqidi, Mohamed Al-Yami.

Defenders: Yasser Al-Shahrani, Ali Al-Bulaihi, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Abdullah Madu, Hassan Tambakti, Sultan Al-Ghanam, Mohammed Al-Breik, Saud Abdulhamid;

Midfielders: Salman Al-Faraj, Riyadh Sharahili, Ali Al-Hassan, Mohamed Kanno, Abdulelah Al-Malki, Sami Al-Najei, Abdullah Otayf, Nasser Al-Dawsari , Abdulrahman Al-Aboud, Salem Al-Dawsari, Hattan Bahebri, Nawaf Al Abed.

Forwards: Haitham Asiri, Saleh Al-Shehri, Firas Al-Buraikan.

FORMATION

Renard’s preference is for the 4-3-2-1 formation he used frequently in qualifying for Qatar 2022, though he deployed a 4-3-3 system for those June and September warm-ups.

PREDICTION

Renard’s team have the unenviable task of opening their Qatar 2022 campaign against Argentina and a bad result could hurt their prospects badly. They then take on Robert Lewandowski and Poland and complete their group engagements with a game against Mexico. It will certainly be a tough task for them to make it to the knockout round from this group.