Introducing another Group C team at the World Cup in Qatar is Saudi Arabia, which has been a frequent guest at the World Cup in recent years.
The kingdom that occupies the lion's share of the Arabian Peninsula and is washed on one side by the Red Sea and on the other by the waters of the Persian Gulf. This year the country celebrated 90 years of independence from the Ottoman Empire.
On the territory of Saudi Arabia there are two sacred cities for every Muslim - Medina and Mecca. As for the economy, it is almost entirely determined by the export of oil, which is abundant here.
The Arabians cannot boast of great achievements in sports: for example, at the Olympics its athletes have won only four medals in athletics, karate and equestrian sport. However, soccer is more popular here.
Saudi national team
Now this is one of the strongest teams not only in the Middle East, but throughout Asia. The Arabs played their first match against Lebanon in 1957, but did not take part in major competitions until the 1970s. Then the team was led by legendary Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskas. Under him, the team from Saudi Arabia reached the final part of the Asian Cup, but then the local soccer authorities for some reason refused to participate in the tournament.
It was not until 1984 that the Desert Eagles played in this tournament for the first time - and went on to become champions, then becoming the best on the continent in 1988 and 1996. The same period also includes their debut in the finals of the World Cup. It happened in 1994 in the United States, and the Saudi team made a lot of noise at the tournament. In the group stage, the reckless underdog, after losing to the Netherlands (1-2), held off the Moroccans (2-1) and the Belgians (1-0), but in the 1/8 finals capitulated to the Swedes (1-3).
The Saudis also took part in the next three World Cups, but never got beyond the group stage. However, in 1998 and 2006, they still managed to get by, getting on the nerves of the Danes and Spaniards, losing to them only with a minimum score. In 2002, however, they suffered a spectacular fiasco when the Saudi national team conceded eight unanswered goals to the Germans at the start of the tournament.
The return to the 2018 World Cup took place in Russia. But to reach the playoffs again failed: after the loss to the Russians (0:5), the key was the match with Uruguay, which ended with a victory of the South Americans (1-0), and the meeting with Egypt (2-1) has not solved anything.
Saudi Arabian national team stars
There are no figures known in Europe in the national team: the vast majority of players play in the domestic championship. At the 2018 World Cup, there were three representatives of the Spanish championship: Yahya al-Shehri from Leganes, Salim al-Davsari from Villarreal and Fahad al-Muwallad from Levante.
Interestingly, among the leaders of the Saudi national team in terms of both the number of matches played and the number of goals, there are no players currently in the squad. The main legend of the Saudis is goalkeeper Muhammad al-Dayyah, who played 178 matches for the national team: the second best result in the history of soccer.
Group C opponents
Argentina, Mexico, Poland.
Saudi Arabia's national team performance
There is no need to harbor any illusions: the Saudis are not going to win anything. Argentina is a different planet; they can compete with the Mexicans and the Poles, wear them out with athletic soccer and even score a point - but no more.