Overjoyed followers erupted in celebration across the Arab world Tuesday after Saudi Arabia’s stunning World Cup win over Argentina.
From Syria and Jordan to Gaza and Qatar — host of this yr’s World Cup — followers basked in Saudi Arabia’s achievement, one of many greatest upsets within the match’s historical past.
Instantly after their workforce’s 2-1 come-from-behind victory, Saudi followers who witnessed the match in individual flooded the streets exterior Lusail Stadium waving their nation’s inexperienced and white flags whereas chanting and singing — and even hugging distraught Argentina followers.
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“I’m speechless,” Saudi Arabia fan Sultan Alharthi stated. “I can’t even clarify how a lot comfortable I’m, as a result of I didn’t anticipate we are going to win.”
Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, attended the match, and at one level wrapped a Saudi flag over his shoulders. The second, captured in on-line video and broadly shared, would have been unthinkable practically two years in the past when Saudi Arabia and three different Arab nations boycotted Qatar over a political dispute.
In northwestern Syria, the war-torn nation’s insurgent stronghold, residents gathered at cafes cheered and celebrated after the ultimate whistle. It was a nice change for the enclave, the place tens of millions undergo from frequent airstrikes and poverty.
Within the metropolis of Idlib, Ahmad Al-Absi stated Saudi Arabia’s victory was a much-needed morale increase for Syrians and Arabs throughout the Center East, even when it meant seeing his favourite soccer workforce lose.
“It reveals that we’ve gifted individuals who can obtain issues on a world stage,” Al-Absi, an Argentina fan, informed The Related Press. “We’re dreaming of higher futures as Arabs, and this morale boosts reminds us that nothing is unattainable.”
Within the streets of Amman, Jordan, dozens of Saudis, and Jordanians celebrated within the streets, carrying Saudi flags or inserting them on their automobiles and blaring their horns.
And in Gaza, Palestinian residents rejoiced, saying they stood with Saudi Arabia in its second of soccer glory. “They stand with us politically and socially, so these celebrations are kind of reciprocation,” stated Gaza resident Abu Khalil.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman introduced a snap public vacation for all employees and college students within the kingdom in celebration of the win.
Individuals watching the match at a fan zone within the capital, Riyadh, jumped with pleasure and cheered as the sport ended. Drivers honked their horns in celebration. Saudi authorities additionally allowed free entry to a state-sponsored sports activities and leisure pageant.
The gravity of the victory will ultimately sink in. Saudi Arabia is a workforce that had solely ever received three World Cup matches in its historical past previous to Tuesday’s recreation. Argentina, which received the World Cup in 1978 and 1986, is — or was — one of many favorites this yr.
“One for the books,” Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard stated. “Typically issues are utterly loopy.”
Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais, who made two key saves late within the recreation, was virtually subdued on the finish, maybe not greedy the magnitude of the upset.
“I’m very comfortable about this end result that we’ve been capable of get hold of in opposition to this very storied workforce,” Alowais stated solemnly. “We now have ready ourselves. We had been 100% prepared and hopefully we could have higher outcomes sooner or later.”
Regardless of trailing 1-0 at halftime after a tenth-minute purpose from Lionel Messi, maybe the best soccer participant of all time, Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari managed to attain a purpose every early within the second half.
Then got here greater than 50 minutes, together with added time on the finish of the match on the referee’s discretion, of holding one of many match favorites at bay.
“All the celebrities aligned for us,” stated Renard, who received the African Cup of Nations as coach of Zambia in 2012 after which once more with Ivory Coast in 2015.
Renard has additionally coached Angola and Morocco, which he guided to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He took over Saudi Arabia in 2019.
“We made historical past for Saudi soccer,” Renard stated. “It’s going to keep endlessly. That is crucial. However we additionally want to consider trying ahead as a result of we nonetheless have two video games which can be very, very troublesome for us.”
Renard stated he requested his gamers to restrict the celebration after the sport to twenty minutes.
“That’s all,” he stated. “However there are nonetheless two video games — or extra.”
They nonetheless should face Poland on Saturday after which tackle Mexico subsequent Tuesday in Group C. Each are most likely nonetheless favorites in opposition to Saudi Arabia — regardless of the upset.
He additionally recommended one other attainable fact: Messi and Argentina most likely underestimated Saudi Arabia, which is just No. 51 within the FIFA rating. Argentina is No. 3.
“However you already know the motivation shouldn’t be like you might be enjoying Brazil,” he added.
Isabel DeBre and Jon Gambrell in Doha, and Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut, contributed to this report.