Overjoyed followers erupted in celebration across the Arab world Tuesday after Saudi Arabia’s surprising 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 staff’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.
“I’m speechless,” Saudi Arabia fan Sultan Alharthi mentioned. “I can’t even clarify how a lot completely happy 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 extensively shared, would have been unthinkable almost 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 pleasing change for the enclave, the place tens of millions undergo from frequent airstrikes and poverty.
Within the metropolis of Idlib, Ahmad Al-Absi mentioned Saudi Arabia’s victory was a a lot wanted morale increase for Syrians and Arabs throughout the Center East, even when it meant seeing his favourite soccer staff lose.
“It exhibits that we’ve proficient individuals who can obtain issues on a world stage,” Al-Absi, an Argentina fan, advised 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 Saudi nationals and Jordanians celebrated within the streets, carrying Saudi flags or inserting them on their vehicles 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 form of reciprocation,” mentioned Gaza resident Abu Khalil.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman introduced a snap public vacation for all staff and college students within the kingdom in celebration of the win.
Folks 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 competition.
The gravity of the victory will ultimately sink in. Saudi Arabia is a staff that had solely ever gained three World Cup matches in its historical past previous to Tuesday’s recreation. Argentina, which gained 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 mentioned. “Typically issues are fully loopy.”
Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais, who made two key saves late within the recreation, was nearly subdued on the finish, maybe not greedy the magnitude of the upset.
“I’m very completely happy about this consequence that we’ve been in a position to acquire towards this very storied staff,” Alowais mentioned solemnly. “We have now 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 celebs aligned for us,” mentioned Renard, who gained 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 historical past for Saudi soccer,” Renard mentioned. “It can keep eternally. That is crucial. However we additionally want to consider wanting ahead as a result of we nonetheless have two video games which can be very very tough for us.”
Renard mentioned he requested his gamers to restrict the celebration after the sport to twenty minutes.
“That’s all,” he mentioned. “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 in all probability nonetheless favorites towards Saudi Arabia — regardless of the upset.
He additionally instructed one other doable reality: Messi and Argentina in all probability underestimated Saudi Arabia, which is simply No. 51 within the FIFA rating. Argentina is No. 3.
“However you realize the motivation is just not like you’re taking part in Brazil,” he added.