Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Shock World Cup win over Argentina a ‘significant moment for all Saudis’

Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al-Bulaihi celebrates after the FIFA World Cup Group C match at Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 22, 2022.
Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al-Bulaihi celebrates after the FIFA World Cup Group C match at Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar. Picture date: Tuesday November 22, 2022.

Saudi Arabian fans based in the UK have described their team’s unexpected win over Argentina as a culturally “significant moment” – and a boost for the nation’s hopes of hosting the 2030 World Cup.

Supporters from the Middle Eastern nation expressed a strong sense of pride after watching their team, ranked 51st in the world by Fifa, secure a 2-1 triumph over Lionel Messi’s side, the global number three.

London-based analyst Dr Najah Al-Otaibi said the win would show the world “the country is developing very fast”, while Dr Mashael Hobani, a recent York University graduate, described it as “a significant moment for all Saudis”.

Dr Al-Otaibi, who has lived in England for 10 years and is a trustee for the Saudi British Society, told the PA news agency: “It was an incredible game.

“The energy and the determination resembled the spirit that you would see in Saudi Arabia now.

“The country is developing very fast, so as people they have lots of hope and dreams and want to be the best in everything.

“This victory means a lot for us not just as Saudis, but as Gulf citizens in general who are seeing an aggressive and unfair coverage of how things are in the region.

Dr Najah Al-Otaibi (PA Media)
Dr Najah Al-Otaibi (PA)

“Football is a great soft power tool to bridge between cultures and create a better understanding between people.”

Dr Al-Otaibi said she was surprised by the result, but added that Saudi fans “always have faith in our team” which is “a regular champion of the Asian Cup”.

She added that the win reminded her of the team’s triumph over Belgium in 1994 after Saeed Al-Owairan scored “what was considered the most impressive goal in the history of the World Cup”.

When asked whether it felt like an important cultural moment for Saudi Arabia, she said: “Indeed, especially as we are trying to bid to host the World Cup in 2030.

Fans at Argentina v Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia fans celebrate after the victory over Argentina (Nick Potts/PA)

“It’s a good introduction for other nations to see how developed Saudi sport is.”

Dr Mashael Hobani, 34, who graduated from York University with a PhD in health policy last year, said there was a “beautiful atmosphere” among fans in the Saudi capital of Riyadh where she watched the game on Tuesday.

She told PA: “I’m a football fan and I have loved watching World Cup matches with my family since I was a child.

“I watched the match today with many Saudis, old and young, females and men, in a large public park prepared with huge screens and comfortable chairs for the event.

Dr Mashael Hobani (PA Media)
Dr Mashael Hobani (PA)

“I’m so proud of our Saudi football team and their great performance.

“It was a significant moment for all Saudis since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is witnessing great development in all fields, especially sports.”

Dr Hobani added that she was hopeful that Saudi Arabia might host the 2030 World Cup.

Saudi Arabia’s next 2022 World Cup match is against Poland at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on Saturday.