1,000 and counting: Green Falcons goals to remember...

Saeed Al-Owairan his scorer of one of the most famous goals in World Cup history. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2019
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1,000 and counting: Green Falcons goals to remember...

  • Hatan Bahbri slotted home Saudi Arabia's 1,000th international goal during the Green Falcons' 4-0 win over North Korea on Tuesday.
  • Arab News looks back at some of the famous goals scored in the green jersey down the years.

LONDON: Hatan Bahbri scored Saudi Arabia’s 1,000th international goal during the Green Falcons’ 4-0 
thrashing of North Korea on Tuesday. To celebrate the milestone Arab News looks back 
at five of the many memorable 999 goals that went before Bahbri’s strike.

SAEED AL-OWAIRAN vs BELGIUM (1994)

Who can forget the Al-Shabab man’s mazy run through a backpedaling Belgian backline at the US World Cup? Having picked the ball up in his own half Owairan ran past four Belgium defenders before firing the ball into the roof of the net. The goal is still considered one of the greatest in World Cup history and is certain one of the best, if not the greatest, ever scored in the famous green shirt.

MAJED ABDULLAH vs CHINA (1984)

The three-time Asian footballer of the year will go down in Green Falcons history as scoring the winner against China to land the Saudis their first Asian Cup title. Majed picked up the ball halfway inside the China half on a boggy Singapore pitch before gliding past three defenders and dummying the keeper to pass the ball into an empty net. It was a beautiful goal and illustrates why Majed was known as the “Arabian Jewel.” He went on to score 71 goals for the national side.

SAMI AL-JABER vs TUNISIA (2006)

We could not do a list of important Saudi Arabia goals and not have one scored by Green Falcons legend Al-Jaber. We have gone for his brilliant strike in the 2006 World Cup. A free flowing move found the striker on the left, he took one touch before firing past the keeper into the corner. It summed up everything brilliant about Al-Jaber.

FAHAD AL-MUWALLAD vs JAPAN (2017)

Saudi Arabia had not qualified for the World Cup in nearly 12 years and the pressure to right that wrong from the football-mad populous was reaching its peak. The Green Falcons went into the match against the Asian powerhouses needing to win to qualify outright. Thanks to this Al-Muwallad strike they did just that in front of a full house in Jeddah of 62,165. With the score at 0-0 and 62 minutes on the clock the winger got the ball on the right hand side of the area before firing into the roof to the net to give Eiji Kawashima in the Japan goal no chance. The crowd went wild and the Green Falcons were off to play on football’s biggest stage.

SALEM AL-DAWSARI vs EGYPT (2018)

The side had been humiliated 5-0 by the hosts in the opening match of the Russia World Cup. It said a lot about the character of the side and their manager, Juan Antonio Pizzi, that they were able to end their tournament on a high, with victory against Egypt. Al-Dawsari had a good tournament and ended with a fine strike in the last minute of the match to gift the Green Falcons a 2-1 victory and their first World Cup win since 1994.


‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

Updated 42 min 40 sec ago
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‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

  • The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments
  • Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months

STUTTGART, Germany: World number one Naomi Osaka defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-3 in Stuttgart on Thursday to reach her first career clay court quarter-final and admitted she had been left “depressed” after a “rough few months.”
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran Hsieh in Miami last month, secured a place in the quarter-finals against Croatia’s Donna Vekic as she launched her preparations for Roland Garros.
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments.
Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months, a period which saw her split with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open.
“I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive toward me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was depressed out there.”
“If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is that I learn quickly,” said Osaka, who reached the last eight of a tournament for the first time since her coaching split.
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.
“Now I start trying to have fun out there, which is what I did before I was number one.”
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat Hsieh for the second time in three attempts this year, having also defeated her on the way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
“I did feel like I am in control, but I also felt she is taking more risks than me,” said Osaka.
“She’s a really tricky opponent. You never really know what she’s going to do.”
Osaka needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh, ensuring she will hold on to top spot in the rankings for at least another week.
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week’s tournament with a hip injury.
Top seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh in the following game.
That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed out victory with another service break in a performance that featured 22 winners and just 16 unforced errors.
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated 2017 champion Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-3.
Sevastova will meet third-ranked Petra Kvitova next.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2, while Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens took down Belinda Bencic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
German number one Angelique Kerber, who won here in 2015 and 2016, takes on compatriot Andrea Petkovic later.