World Cup 2022 team preview: Goal-shy Saudi Arabia to struggle in Group C

It looks like being another tough tournament for the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia national football team

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This will be Saudi Arabia’s sixth World Cup appearance, and ‘The Green Falcons’ will hope they can use the underdog tag to their advantage like they did in 1994 when  qualifiying from a Group of Belgium, Morocco and the Netherlands.

Paddy Power footy trader David Murphy takes a look at their chances of a repeat at the World Cup 2022.

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Saudi Arabia World Cup 2022 qualifying record

The Green Falcons impressed in qualifying, topping a group which included the likes of Australia, Japan and China. The Saudis suffered just one defeat in their 10 qualifying matches, which can be put down to their solid defence. They let in just six goals, which allowed them to grind out hard-fought wins such as the crucial 1-0 victories at home against Japan and Australia.

Who is the Saudi Arabia manager?

Anyone who has followed AFCON over the years will be familiar with Herve Renard. He has done the rounds on the African continent managing Zambia, Angola, Ivory Coast and Morocco before moving to the Middle East to coach Saudi Arabia.

The Frenchman has won the African Cup of Nations twice (Zambia 2012 and Ivory Coast 2015), and fully understands the demands and culture of this Saudi team.

Saudi Arabia World Cup squad

As mentioned previously, Saudi Arabia have a solid defence made up mainly of players from Al-Hilal and Al-Nasser so they are already very familiar with each other. If they want to have any chance of progressing from the Group C, they will need Saleh Al Sheri and Salem Al Dawsari to chip in with goals as they did throughout qualifying.

The pair ended qualification with seven goals each, stressing their importance to the side. With chances against the other three teams in the group likely to be hard to come by they will need to have their shooting boots firmly strapped on.

  • Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Nawaf Al-Aqidi, Mohammed Al-Yami
  • Defenders: Hassan Tambakti, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Ali Al-Bulaihi, Abdullah Madu, Saud Abdulhamid, Sultan Al-Ghanam, Mohammed Al-Breik, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Ali Al-Hassan
  • Midfielders: Abdulellah Al-Malki, Riyadh Sharahili, Abdullah Otayf, Mohamed Kanno, Nasser Al-Dawsari, Salman Al-Faraj, Sami Al-Najei, Salem Al-Dawsari, Hattan Bahebri
  • Forwards: Fahad Al-Muwallad, Abdulrahman Al-Aboud, Haitham Asiri, Firas Al-Buraikan, Saleh Al-Shehri

Saudi Arabia Key Player

Salem Al Dawsari is a very skilful winger who joined Al-Hilal as a youth player and had an uneventful loan move to Villareal in 2018 where he made just one appearance. However, he appeared to learn from that European experience and since his return to Al-Hilal has scored 47 goals in 207 appearances and 17 goals for his country in 66 games. He also takes the penalties.

Saudi Arabia One to Watch

Saleh Al Sheri plays as a striker for Al-Hilal. He was the first ever Saudi to score in Europe from his time playing in Portugal with Beira-Mar. All eyes are on Saudi starman Al Dawsari but with Al Sheri scoring eight goals in 16 appearances for the Green Falcons he cannot be overlooked to be their top goalscorer at the tournament.

Saleh al-Shehri, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia World Cup Prospects

Although they do not concede many goals, Saudi Arabia do have difficulty scoring them. Their first game will be against an Argentina side looking to make a good first impression, followed by a very organised Poland team who will most likely pick up the three points, so by the time they get to their last – and arguably most manageable – game against Mexico they could be on their way home. Anything other that a bottom of the group finish would be a surprise.

Saudi Arabia World Cup betting tips

The big question is will Saudi Arabia score any goals from open play? That may be unlikely, however, Salm Al-Dawsari is a winger who not only likes a goal at his club side but has been taking penalties recently for the Green Falcons too. SAUDI ARABIA TEAM TOP GOAL SCORER: SALEM AL-DAWSARI.

Saudi Arabia World Cup Winner Odds

Saudi Arabia’s World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 22, 10am: Argentina v Saudi Arabia (ITV)

November 26, 1pm: Poland v Saudi Arabia (ITV)

November 30, 7pm: Saudi Arabia v Mexico (BBC)

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON SAUDI ARABIA’S GROUP C RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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