Brazil to play Green Falcons as Saudi Arabia host Neymar and Co.

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Neymar and his Brazil teammates will head to Riyadh in October to face Saudi Arabia and then play fierce rivals Argentina in Jeddah. (AFP)
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Turki Al-Sheikh, the president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, with the Saudi Arabia players. (SPA)
Updated 08 September 2018

Brazil to play Green Falcons as Saudi Arabia host Neymar and Co.

  • During the next international window, the Green Falcons will face Brazil in Riyadh on October 12
  • Match is part of a four-team series being hosted in the Kingdom, which also includes Argentina

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia hosting Argentina and Brazil in a four-nation tournament in October has been hailed as the best possible preparation for for the 2019 Asian Cup in January for the Green Falcons.
During the next international window, the Green Falcons will face Brazil in Riyadh on October 12, while local fans will get a taste of one of the fiercest and biggest rivalries in world football when the Samba Boys and Argentina meet in Jeddah four days later.
“We have just signed a four-star international tournament in early October with the participation of Brazil, Argentina and the Saudi Arabian team in addition to a fourth team that will be announced soon,” Turki Al-Sheikh, the president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, said on Friday.
The country’s leading sports official wants Egypt to complete the quartet. “As president of the Arab Football Federation, I hope that Egypt will be the fourth team.”
Whether the Pharaohs enter or not, the mini-tournament is good news for fans in Saudi Arabia.
“The most important part is that this gives the team the best kind of test for the Asian Cup,” an official from the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) told Arab News.
“We saw at the World Cup that we need as much quality international experience as possible and there can be nothing better than playing Brazil in front of what should be a sell-out crowd in Riyadh.”
Saudi Arabia have reasons to be optimistic ahead of the tournament. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is not only from Argentina but he led Chile to the 2016 Copa America title. His knowledge of South American football should provide even more of an advantage to the hosts.
“These are the kinds of games that coach Pizzi wants,” added the official. “We don’t want to arrange games against weaker teams that we can defeat comfortably, we want a real challenge.

“Not only that, but having Brazil at home gives all players in the league real incentive to try and get into the team and play against some of the best players in the world, such as Neymar. And it is also a great chance for the fans to see the same stars in the flesh.”
Brazil are happy with the arrangement. The five-time world champions had already arranged for the Saudi Arabia test but did not want to travel back to South America to take on Argentina. Staying in Saudi Arabia is also much easier for the Brazil’s European-based players, who will make up an even greater percentage of the squad than usual.
While the Brazilian federation has agreed not to call any players from the four Brazil Cup semifinalists — Flamengo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Cruzeiro — the SAFF expects both teams to bring all their stars for the trip, though Argentine maestro Lionel Messi is currently on a break from international football.
The tournament also marks another international sporting event in the Kingdom. The GSA have recently organized the Riyadh marathon, the Italian Super Cup final, the Royal Rumble in WWE as well as motorsport events and chess championships. Football remains the most important field however.
“It is commonplace for nations seeking to build a global presence in football to establish new competitions or stage high profile matches,” Simon Chadwick, Professor Sports Enterprise at Salford University in the United Kingdom told Arab News.
“Qatar did it in the run-up to them winning the World Cup vote in 2010, and China has done it recently with a new international tournament. 

“Such initiatives raise profiles, provide an opportunity to prove one’s expertise, and engage key stakeholders in football. As such, we should therefore expect more of the same from Saudi Arabia as the country seeks to become a leading football nation.”
Abdel Ezzat, who resigned as SAFF’s president in August in order to prepare for a run at the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation next year, added: “The country is going through an important change. Football can be a catalyst for change. My country can play an important role in football.
“Football is about growth and if you don’t grow economically, socially, technically, you will not be moving,” Ezzat added. “It’s not enough for us to be in the World Cup.”
Saudi Arabia, who take on North Korea, Lebanon and Qatar at the Asian Cup in January, start preparations for the tournament with another South American test against Bolivia on Monday before traveling to Amman in November for a friendly with Jordan.


Top Saudi duo leads staggering entry for Rally Qassim 2019

Updated 16 min 50 sec ago

Top Saudi duo leads staggering entry for Rally Qassim 2019

  • Several drivers are keen to test their skills ahead of Dakar Rally next year

BURAIDAH: A staggering entry of 63 cars, 1 truck, 18 motorcycles and 8 quads will tackle this weekend’s Rally Qassim 2019, the second round of the exciting new Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship.

There is strength in depth throughout the entire car field and the three T1, T2 and T3 categories, with Saudi Arabia’s leading cross-country star Yazeed Al-Rajhi topping the entry after finishing fifth overall at last week’s Rally of Morocco.

Fellow Saudi Yasir Seaidan wheels out his MINI All4 Racing, as the two leading Saudi stars go head-to-head across home terrain. Abu Dhabi Racing’s Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi is also on hand to challenge for overall honors in a Peugeot 3008 DXR.

There is a strong Saudi influence in the upper reaches of the top 10 with the likes of Essa Al-Dossari, Ahmed Al-Shegawi and Mutair Al-Shammeri, but there is an international flavor to the entry as well, with several drivers keen to test before the Dakar Rally crosses the country for the first time in January 2020.

Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal wheels out his Ford F-150 Evo, Egyptian Yara Shalaby has entered a Nissan and there are entries for Kuwait’s Mohammed Al-Dhafiri and Emirati Abdullah Al-Heraiz.

Saleh Al-Saif tops a strong lineup in the T3 category at the helm of his Can-Am Maverick X3 and faces 12 Saudi rivals – three in Yamahas, one in a Polaris and eight in Can-Ams.

Ibrahim Al-Muhanna won the Hail International Rally back in 2014 with Emirati navigator Ali Hassan Obaid and he drives the sole T4 Mercedes truck, with Osama Al-Sanad and Raed Abo Theeb alongside.

 Using the event as a perfect opportunity to shake down his KTM 450 Rally after the recent Jordan Baja win is the Emirati racer Mohammed Al-Balooshi. 

He leads  an 18-strong motorcycle field that includes other riders from the host country, New Zealand and the UK.

Philip Wilson represents New Zealand, Anthony King is the sole UK entrant, while Emirati Abdullah bin Dakhan rides a Yamaha against a field that includes 14 Saudi riders.

Multiple Hail International Rally winner Abdulmajeed Al-Khulaifi tops the quad category on his Yamaha. 

The Saudi has won the Kingdom’s premier off-road rally’s quad section for the last six successive seasons — three times on a Kawasaki and three times on a Yamaha - but faces some of his strongest ever competition in Buraidah.

He lines up against the likes of the experienced Sultan Al-Masoud, Abdulsalam Hamam and Yousef Al-Namasi.

The event is  organized by the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, under the chairmanship of   Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, and takes place from Thursday  to Saturday.

It is the second of five rounds of the Saudi Toyota Desert Rally Championship with three further rallies still to run this year on Nov.  4-9, Nov. 27-30 and Dec. 12-14 . 

Action at Rally Qassim 2019 gets underway with a short super special stage of 3.55km from 16:10hrs at Wahtan in Buraidah on Thursday afternoon. There will be 347.80km timed against the clock in a compact route of 548.80km.

The event runs with the support of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, the General Sports Authority, Abdul Latif Jameel Motors (Toyota), the MBC Group and Al-Arabia.