There were times when I wanted to write a newspaper column but could not put pen to paper. The spark was missing, that moment of inspiration.
But that came with Saudi Arabia’s giant-killing act in the World Cup football match against Argentina. Very few, including myself, I would admit, expected the Green Falcons to prevail over Leo Messi’s unbeaten Argentina.
For a neutral like me, I felt Messi deserved a shot at winning the Cup, which has eluded him far too long, and perhaps a win for Argentina would invoke the spirit of the late Diego Maradona. Any hope of that has at least been initially dashed by the Super Saudis in Doha.
With the regular Saudi captain Salman Al-Faraj coming off early, the Falcons had the odds stacked against them even further. But their spirit was never broken. What was even more heartwarming to witness was the unwavering support from both Saudis and the expat communities in the Kingdom for the Green Falcons. Granted, expectations were not high and when the team was trailing 1-0 or had less than 1 percent possession, none of their supporters switched off or gave up.
The cheers from Saudis and expats inside Aramco’s fan zone in Dhahran amply demonstrated the unifying power of sports behind a sporting cause. But on the subject of causes, certain teams may have been better off focusing on their opponents on the field for at least 90 minutes.
The actions of the German footballers in their pre-match “photo opp” showed a complete lack of respect for their Japanese opponents. If the priority was to win that game, they would have been better off concentrating or trying to plot how best to stop the Samurai Blues instead of making a political statement on the field.
The superlatives have been flowing for Kingdom’s now legendary footballers and there should also be many for the spirit of the team’s supporters who steadfastly kept the faith.
The Green Falcons showed Messi’s Argentina that they can go toe-to-toe on the pitch, earn the respect of the world and inspire many, including the players of Japan. That the world’s 51st-ranked team can outperform the number three team also shows past performance does not matter at the World Cup. What matters is who shows up on the day.
The superlatives have been flowing for Saudi’s now legendary footballers and there should also be many for the spirit of the team’s supporters who steadfastly kept the faith.
This is a week when the Green Falcons’ win inspired the Samurai Blues to triumph over Germany — this is the beautiful thing about the World Cup, where an underdog can inspire millions to dream and think big. For the Qatar World Cup, Saudi Arabia have certainly unleashed that dream.
While Argentina need a ‘Messiah’ now more than ever, whatever happens in Saudi Arabia’s next two games, with two regular players out, against Poland and Mexico, the true spirit of the World Cup has been ignited by the Kingdom. Long may that continue until the final on Dec. 18 and beyond.
• Nesa Subrahmaniyan works in Dhahran at Saudi Aramco.