LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — 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 12 months’s World Cup — followers basked in Saudi Arabia’s achievement, one of many greatest upsets in the match’s historical past.
Immediately after their group’s 2-1 come-from-behind victory, Saudi followers who witnessed the match in individual flooded the streets outdoors Lusail Stadium waving their nation’s inexperienced and white flags whereas chanting and singing — and even hugging distraught Argentina followers.
“I’m speechless,” Saudi Arabia fan Sultan Alharthi stated. “I can’t even explain how much happy I am, because I didn’t expect we will win.
Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, attended the match, and at one point wrapped a Saudi flag over his shoulders. The moment, captured in online video and widely shared, would have been unthinkable nearly two years ago when Saudi Arabia and three other Arab nations boycotted Qatar over a political dispute.
In northwestern Syria, the war-torn country’s rebel stronghold, residents gathered at cafes cheered and celebrated after the final whistle. It was a pleasant change for the enclave, where millions suffer from frequent airstrikes and poverty.
In the city of Idlib, Ahmad Al-Absi said Saudi Arabia’s victory was a much needed morale boost for Syrians and Arabs across the Middle East, even if it meant seeing his favorite soccer team lose.
“It shows that we have talented people who can achieve things on a global stage,” Al-Absi, an Argentina fan, advised The Associated Press. “We’re dreaming of better futures as Arabs, and this morale boosts reminds us that nothing is impossible.”
In the streets of Amman, Jordan, dozens of Saudi nationals and Jordanians celebrated in 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 sort of reciprocation,” stated Gaza resident Abu Khalil.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman introduced a snap public vacation for all staff and college students in the dominion in celebration of the win.
People watching the match at a fan zone in 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 group that had solely ever received three World Cup matches in its historical past previous to Tuesday’s sport. Argentina, which received the World Cup in 1978 and 1986, is — or was — one of many favorites this 12 months.
“One for the books,” Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard stated. “Sometimes things are completely crazy.”
Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais, who made two key saves late in the sport, was nearly subdued at the tip, maybe not greedy the magnitude of the upset.
“I am very happy about this result that we have been able to obtain against this very storied team,” Alowais stated solemnly. “We have prepared ourselves. We were 100% ready and hopefully we will have better results in the future.”
Despite 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 in the second half.
Then got here greater than 50 minutes, together with added time at the tip of the match at the referee’s discretion, of holding one of many match favorites at bay.
“All the stars 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 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 history for Saudi football,” Renard stated. “It will stay forever. This is the most important. But we also need to think about looking forward because we still have two games that are very very difficult for us.”
Renard stated he requested his gamers to restrict the celebration after the sport to twenty minutes.
“That’s all,” he stated. “But there are still two games — or more.”
They nonetheless should face Poland on Saturday after which tackle Mexico subsequent Tuesday in Group C. Both are most likely nonetheless favorites in opposition to Saudi Arabia — regardless of the upset.
He additionally steered one other attainable fact: Messi and Argentina most likely underestimated Saudi Arabia, which is just No. 51 in the FIFA rating. Argentina is No. 3.
“But you know the motivation is not like you are playing Brazil,” he added.
Isabel DeBre and Jon Gambrell in Doha, and Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut, contributed to this report.
AP World Cup protection: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports