Mahmoud Ahmad, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Thu, 2005-04-21 03:00

JEDDAH, 21 April 2005 — Saudi Arabia brought a fitting end to their triumphant campaign in the First Islamic Solidarity Games by clinching the football gold medal against Morocco yesterday.

After the final whistle signaled the completion of the Kingdom’s 1-0 victory at the King Abdul Aziz Stadium in Makkah the closing ceremony followed. The ceremony was capped by a breathtaking 30-minute fireworks display that lit up the night sky.

The president of General Presidency of Youth Welfare, Prince Sultan ibn Fahd, handed over the games flag to a representative of the 2009 hosts Iran in turnover ceremony. Prince Sultan’s deputy, Prince Nawaf ibn Faisal, also attended the football final and closing ceremony. Bahrain Olympic Committee President Essa ibn Rashed was present among many other dignitaries.

Dr. Saleh ibn Nasser, vice president of GPYW and chief organizer of the highly successful 13-day quadrennial meet, presented the games flag to Prince Sultan after it was taken down.

Besides underlining the fact that Saudi Arabia are capable hosts of international sporting events of this magnitude comparable to the world’s highly developed countries the meet brought into focus the strides made by the Kingdom in the field of sports.

Also brought to the fore was the legendary Arab hospitality for which the Saudis are unparalleled so much so that the Iranians will have a tough act to follow when their turn to host the next games comes four years from now.

The final day also saw Pakistan complete a golden hat trick in tennis after their doubles tandem of Essam ul-Haq Qureshi and Aqeel Khan beat Indonesia’s Paryma and Suwandi 7-6, 7-6 at the King Fahd Sports City court in Taif.

Saudi striker Yasser Al-Qahtani headed in a nice cross by Khaled Aziz in the 48th minute for the only goal of the match to the roar of the crowd of 20,000.

Saudi Arabia started their unbeaten campaign in easily the most cherished event of football by beating Yemen 4-0. They then went on to score victories against Palestine 3-0, against Algeria 5-0, against Oman 2-1 in the quarterfinals, against Syria 4-0 in the semifinals and finally against Morocco 1-0 in the final match.

Earlier in the day, Iran defeated Syria in the battle for third place on penalty kicks 5-3 after the teams were tied 0-0 after the regulation period.

Fahad Al-Musaibeeh, the Saudi team manager, said: “I am very happy for the gold medal that came after long effort. Our mission was achieved and so are the goals. We wanted to give a chance to young players to participate in the national team and to develop the national team. The future is very bright for the Saudi football.”

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