Deadly defense, awesome Otayf: How Al-Hilal snatched their 15th title

Al-Halal may have faltered in the AFC Champions League, but the Riyadh club have been dominant at home.
Updated 13 April 2018
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Deadly defense, awesome Otayf: How Al-Hilal snatched their 15th title

  • Riyadh club won the title on the last day of the season with a 4-1 win over Al-Fateh
  • Accomplished with two coaches over the course of the season

Al-Hilal fans could breathe easier after their side’s 4-1 win over Al-Fateh, a victory that ensured they finished just one point ahead of Jeddah rivals Al-Ahli in a nail-biting finish to an exciting campaign.

Here we take a look back over the season and come up with five reasons why the Riyadh giants won title No. 15.

DOMINANT DEFENCE 

As Omar Khribin showed with a brilliant hat-trick on Thursday, strikers win games. But it is defenses that win titles. Al-Hilal had the best backline and conceded fewer goals than anyone else. Just four times all season did the capital club concede more than one goal in a match. Osama Hawsawi (who announced he was leaving after the game) and Mohammed Jahfali developed a fine partnership, while Yasser Al-Shahrani and Mohammed Al-Hafith are an underrated pair of full backs. Throw in experienced goalkeepers Abdullah Al-Maiouf and Ali Al-Habsi and it is clear to see why opposition attacks found breaking Al-Hilal down a tough task.

RAMON DIAZ

It may seem strange to praise a manager who got his marching orders midway through the season, but there is little doubt that without the Argentine in the dugout Al-Hilal fans would not be celebrating right now. Diaz was sacked after defeat to Esteghlal in the AFC Champions League. The Asian campaign was disappointing, but domestically all was fine and Al-Hilal were on a nine-game unbeaten run in the league at the time he departed. Diaz had won 30 out of 41 games and had the team well organized and disciplined. Assistant Juan Brown stepped in for the final five games of the season and deserved praise for getting the team over the line — but the hard work had already been done.

STRENGTH IN DEPTH

Champions normally have at least one striker at or near the top of the goalscoring charts. Not so this season with Al-Hilal. If you scan the top 15 scorers in the league, you will not find one player from the Riyadh giants. Injuries to Carlos Eduardo and Omar Khribin, the side’s usual go-to pair for goals, should have put paid to their side’s title chances. But in their absence the rest of the team stepped up. The defense chipped in with seven goals, the midfield did its bit and while new attacking signings such as Gelmin Rivas, Ezequiel Cerutti and Achraf Bencharki did not exactly set the place alight, they contributed just enough to keep the points column ticking over.


ABDULLAH OTAYF


It is inevitable that those who score the goals get the headlines, but Otayf was the man who made Al-Hilal tick. He is the kind of player every title-winning team needs — an unassuming get-to-it and do-the-job midfielder. Underrated he did the simple things very well, worked hard to get possession, kept it and then gave it to those with a nose for goal. He loves to pull the strings from deep and has did so time and time again this season.

EARLY ADVANTAGE OVER AL-AHLI


Usually it is hard to point to one game over the course of a long season and say that it the key moment of the campaign. Not so this time. With just a point separating Al-Hilal and Al Ahli by the season’s final whistle, it is clear the meetings between them were crucial. While last week’s clash ended 0-0, the first meeting back in December saw Al-Hilal claim victory with a 2-0 win. Salem Al-Dawsari, now on loan at Villarreal in Spain, bagged both goals in the second half to give the Boss the advantage in the title race. It was one they did not relinquish.


Sixth season of ​​Formula E to start in Saudi Arabia’s Ad Diriyah in November

Updated 16 June 2019
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Sixth season of ​​Formula E to start in Saudi Arabia’s Ad Diriyah in November

  • The electric cars competition will witness two rounds as part of the sixth ABB FIA Formula E event
  • Fourteen such events are scheduled in 12 cities on four different continents

RIYADH: FIA World Motor Sport Council revealed on Saturday that the 2019 Saudia Ad Diriyah E Prix will kick off the new season on Nov. 22 and 23, 2019, on the outskirts of Riyadh.

The electric cars competition, organized by the FIA and the Saudi Arabia General Sport Authority (GSA), will witness two rounds as part of the sixth ABB FIA Formula E competition, out of 14 organized in 12 cities on four different continents including, Santiago, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Rome, Paris, Berlin, New York, and London and Seoul, which were recently added.

Alberto Longo, vice CEO of Formula E, said that the upcoming season will be one of the most exciting in the short history of the competition.

He also welcomed Mercedes Benz and Porsche to the list of competitors, and Seoul and London to the competition’s venues.

He said that the present season is about to end with three more rounds to go, and that there is a fierce competition for the title.

CHAMPIONSHIP PROGRAM

● Nov. 22: Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia

● Nov. 23: Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia

● Dec. 14: TBA

● Jan. 18, 2020: Santiago, Chile

● Feb. 15, 2020: Mexico City, Mexico

● March 1, 2020: Hong Kong, China

● March 21, 2020: TBA — China

● April 4, 2020: Rome, Italy

● 9 April 18, 2020: Paris, France

● 10 May 3, 2020: Seoul, S. Korea

● 11 May 30, 2020: Berlin, Germany

● 12 June 20, 2020: New York, US

● 13 July 25, 2020: London, UK

● 14 July 26, 2020: London, UK