Group C: Saudi Arabia        Castellano   Page 2

Argentina  2

Austria  2

Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria

Cameroon

Chile  2

Colombia

Croatia  2

Denmark  2

England  2

France  2

Germany  2

Iran

Italy  2

Jamaica

Japan

México

Morocco  2

Netherlands  2

Nigeria

Norway  2

Paraguay

Romania

Saudi Arabia  2

Scotland

South Africa

South Korea

Spain  2

Tunisia

United States

Yugoslavia

   Saudi Arabia Football Federation  

Coach: Carlos Alberto PARREIRA

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vs. DENMARK

12.06.98 Lens

vs. FRANCE

18.06.98 Saint-Denis

vs. SOUTH AFRICA

24.06.98 Bordeaux

Team Colors: White shirt, Green pants

Confederation: AFC

2nd appearance in the World Cup

Reached last 16 in USA 94

Triple Asian champions (1984,1988,1996)

Key players: F Sami-al-Jabr (Hillal),

M Fahd al-Muhallad (Hillal),

G Mohammed-al-Daeyea (Al-Fayed).

Mohammed Al Daeyea

Keep an Eye on: Mohammed Al Daeyea: Experienced goalkeeper, linchpin in 1994.

Khalid Moussad: Captain and midfield organizer, who scored some sensational goals in the qualifying rounds. Also was the leading scorer during qualifiers with 4.

Ali Jaber: Striker, 25, who likes to run at defenses from deep positions.

Analysis: Saudi Arabia is quick and can score, with F Saeed al-Owairan a factor. But the team is suspect in the back.

Will get 3 games of international experience, but might surprise someone.

History: Saudi Arabia is the most powerful force in football in western Asia, following the example of South Korea in the east. They competed in World Cup qualifiers for the first time in 1978, six years before their first victory in the Asian Nations Cup. The decision to go professional in 1992 led to the rapid expansion of Saudi football. The infrastructure of the clubs has for years been near perfect thanks to the emirs and wealthy businessmen who fund them. It was thanks to this that Saudi Arabia, in its first ever World Cup finals in 1994, managed to reach the last 16. That same year the country won for the first time the Gulf Cup, which was created in 1970. In 1996 Saudi Arabia confirmed its strength by winning the Asian Championship. Thanks to a combination of the tough competition between the Gulf countries, the experience brought by coaches and imported foreign players (each club is allowed three foreign players), a new generation of Saudi players has been born.

Eight of the 16 players having participated in the World Cup qualifying matches for 1998 did not play in the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Employing the normal tactic of playing 4-4-2, the team nearly always consists of the same 11 players. The only two regular changes come in midfield and in attack. The midfield has seen the important return of Saïd Owairan, where, after scoring against Belgium in the World Cup finals in 1994, he was later suspended for disciplinary reasons for the whole of 1996.

Saudi Arabia will travel to France aiming to continue one of the most successful runs of any Asian side, Gavin Hamilton writes. Last December, Saudi Arabia won the Asian Cup for a record-equalling third time, to add to the 1994 Gulf Cup, their qualification for the 1996 Olympic Games and their surprising success at the 1994 World Cup finals. 

Victories over Belgium and Morocco in USA 94 mean that Saudi Arabia are the most successful Asian team in World Cup finals history - to put that in perspective, only North Korea, in 1966, had previously won a match.  

Eduardo Vingada, a former coach of the Portugal Under-21 side, masterminded the Asian Cup success last year. He was rewarded with a one-year contract and given a simple task: qualify for the World Cup. With that achieved, Vingada's services have been dispensed with and the name of Carlos Alberto Parreira, of the 94 World Champions Brazil and lately of the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars surfaced. Money is no object for the princes who run football in the Gulf state, but with money comes influence: they got through three coaches in the six months before the last World Cup.

The new coach will inherit a young squad with an average age 24 and some useful players, notably Sami Al Jaber, a striker, Abdullah Suleiman, a defender, and Khamis Owairan, in midfield. One thorny selection issue remains - whether to recall Saeed Owarain, the "Desert Pelé" who scored an extraordinary goal against Belgium in 1994, beating four players in a mazy run from his own half. Owairan recently completed a one-year ban after being found guilty by an Islamic court of "immoral acts". In Saudi-speak, that means either alcohol or adultery, or both.

Trivia for the Pub: See the player in Saudi Arabia's Federation logo? It seems it came from the Munich 1972 Olympics logos representing the different sports.

POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Mohammed Al-Daeya 25 89

G Hussein Al-Sadiq 24  

D Mohammed Al-Jahni 22 63

D Ahmed Al-Dossary 21 42

D Ibrahim Al-Harbi 22

D Mohammed Al-Khlaiwi 26 83

D Khamis Al-Owairan 24

D Khalid Al-Temawi 29  

D Khamis Al-Zahrani 21  

D Ahmed Jamil Madani 27

D Hussein Sulaimani 24 35

D Abdullah Zebramawi 24

M Faud Amin 24  

M Hamza Saleh 30  

M Khalid Al-Muwalid 26 86

M Obeid Al-Dosary 21

M Abdul-Aziz Al-Dossary 25  

M Youssef Al-Thyniyan 34

F Salem Sarour Al-Alawi 25  

F Fahad Al-Mehalel 27 80

F Sami Al-Jaber 24 80

F Mohammed Al-Sahafi 22

F Ibrahim Al-Shahrani 23

F Saeed Al-Oweiran 30

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