Here comes Hilal

Updated 28 November 2012
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Here comes Hilal

Last week, we had the final round of the league’s first level. I definitely enjoyed watching especially the most important match, Hilal-Ahli.
Hilal turned the tables on Ahli and went from 0-1 to 4-1 in its favor. It was a match dominated by the Blues. But although they won, I don’t think Hilal is as strong as the team it used to be.
As a matter of fact, I believe that Hilal is in its weakest season as far as its own plays go. Despite that, the team still played better than Ahli which probably thought that after its brilliant goal, it could put Hilal down.
Ahli’s problem is the same as the other Saudi teams. They made Hilal their only goal in the league. These teams kept their concentration on Hilal. Like Ahli who’s already aiming for Hilal even before the game with Ta’awon, so instead of winning they lost both matches.
I wonder why when Hilal is not the toughest opponent out there. The way I see it, there is nothing much to fear about Hilal anymore. These teams should take Fateh’s lead as they beat Hilal earlier in the second round. If Fateh’s luck contines in Ahsa, they could be the closest team to get the league title.
The league now is much harder for Ittihad and Ahli. So far, Hilal is the fiercest competition of the current No. 1 Fateh. Nasr although far from being No. 1 , is doing much better than before while Shabab needs to figure out the weak points to better its performance.


What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

Updated 19 April 2018
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What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

  • Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
  • Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.

 



AL-HILAL

Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League

 



AL-AHLI

Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.


 
AL-NASSR

Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.

 


AL-ITTIHAD

Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.