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Saudi Arabia exits the World Cup with new confidence


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From a generation-defining victory over Lionel Messi and Argentina to recent reports that Cristiano Ronaldo may soon be on his way to play soccer in the kingdom, Saudi Arabia has caused a sensation at the World Cup.

The Green Hawks have nothing to be ashamed of after being knocked out of their subsequent 2-1 loss to Mexico on Wednesday.

The second-lowest ranked team in the tournament at No. 51, one place behind hosts Qatar, and ahead only of 61st-ranked Ghana, Saudi Arabia was competitive from start to finish in the first World Cup. World in the Middle East.

“We did our best. Today was more difficult for us,” said Herv√© Renard, the French coach of Saudi Arabia. “But we don’t have to forget what we did together.”

Saudi Arabia The Saudi Arabian team gathers before the World Cup group C soccer match between Saudi Arabia and Mexico, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The Saudis started with a stunning 2-1 win over Argentina and also played solidly in a 2-0 loss to Poland before conceding two second-half goals to Mexico to finish bottom of Group C.

Salem Al-Dawsari, the team’s No. 10 star, scored a goal in stoppage time, before Saudi players bowed on the pitch at the final whistle in prayer and then rose to their feet to applaud their fans.

Solid goalkeeping from Mohammed Alowais prevented Mexico from scoring another goal, which could have sent the South Americans to the round of 16. Instead, it was Argentina and Poland who advanced in the most open group of the tournament.

With Renard motivating the team in his iconic white jersey on the sidelines, Saudi Arabia proved difficult to beat with a 26-man home squad.

The fact that none of the Saudis play abroad may have been a surprising factor, but the reality is that the country’s best players don’t need to go to Europe for rich contracts when they are paid generously in the lucrative Saudi league.

A high-paying contract is exactly what could entice Ronaldo to join six members of the Saudi national team at Al Nassr, one of the country’s biggest clubs.

Reports linking Ronaldo to Al Nassr come after Manchester United terminated the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s contract.

Saudi-controlled Newcastle are also reportedly in the market for Ronaldo.

But whether Ronaldo goes to a Saudi or Saudi-owned club or not, the country’s national team leaves Qatar with plenty of renewed confidence.

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