The football world continues to leave its fans amazed. Argentina won the world cup final against France in arguably the most entertaining ninety minutes ever played in the history of this global game.
A few weeks later, Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most outstanding athletes, made headlines by joining the Saudi Arabia-based club Al-Riyadh. It was supposedly the most significant moment in the history of Saudi Arabian football. Still, it turns out that Saudi Arabia is just starting. Al-Hilal, another Saudi club, made it into the finals of the Club World Cup taking place in Morocco.
After a breathtaking match on Tuesday, Al-Hilal emerged victorious against South American champions Flamengo with a score of 3-2. Al-Hilal got an early lead through Salem Al Dawsari’s penalty goal in the 2nd minute. The first 18 minutes were anxiety-inducing for the Brazillian side. However, Pedro got the ball at the back of the net in the 20th minute.
However, Al Dawsari’s penalty in the 54th minute gave the Arabian side another lead. Al-Hilal went off the pitch with a lead at halftime.
Flamengo was playing with ten men on the field in the second half. Al-Hilal made perfect use of this opportunity; however, Flamengo still gave the Saudi stars a tough time. Al-Hilal was further able to cement their victory in the second half with a third goal by the Argentinian forward Luciano Vietto in the 70th minute. Flamengo star Pedro scored a second goal for the South American champions in the 91st minute, but that wasn’t enough.
Impacts of the win
This victory plays the role of a milestone in Saudi football. It also acts as a motivating factor for the Al-Hilal players and Saudi footballers. Besides the four hundred thousand dollars of prize money for playing in the semifinals, Al-Hilal players were bombarded with Saudi billionaires offering hundreds of thousands of dollars for this monumental win.
It was also reported that the Saudi Ministry of Sports would further reward the players with half a million Riyals. Besides that, it’s safe to assume that this win is something to look up to for all professional and aspiring Saudi footballers and clubs.
Al-Hilal played its first match against Wydad AC on Saturday, 4th February. Wydad AC pushed the Saudi team against a wall with Ayoub al Elmoud’s goal in the 54th minute. Mohammed Kanno’s miraculous goal in the third minute of extra time took the game to penalties. Al-Hilal could dominate in penalties and come out victorious with a score of 5-3. The format of the Club World Cup allowed Al-Hilal to make it into the semifinals immediately.
Real Madrid played the second semifinal against the Egyptian Champions Al-Ahly on Wednesday, 8th February. Real Madrid holds the most FIFA Club World Cup victories with 4 titles, three consecutive in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Al-Ahly was able to stand its own against the European giants. However, V.Junior’s 42nd-minute goal gave Real Madrid the much-needed boost just before halftime.
The Spanish club put another in the net thanks to Valverde’s 45th-minute goal. Although the Egyptians were able to score one goal on a penalty soon into the second half, Real Madrid made sure that they proved themselves by scoring two more goals. With a 4-1 victory, Real Madrid set themselves to face Al-Hilal on Saturday, 11th February.
Saudi Arabian football has come a long way, and so has Al-Hilal. Will Al-Hilal be able to succeed in their underdog run and win against the Spanish champions?