Kuala Lumpur: Saudi Arabia’s return to the FIFA World Cup after 12 years of absence sees them pitted against the hosts for the second time after France in 1998. Uruguay and Egypt round-up a reasonably balanced group A.
Following Friday’s draw, the-AFC.com spoke to Saudi Arabian fan Othman Al Tuwaijri who assessed his country’s group stage opponents and shared his hopes for the Green Falcons.
Q: How would you rate your opponents in Group A?
A: With all due respect to the hosts Russia, Uruguay are the opponents I am most worried about. They have one of the best striking forces in the world.
Their squad as a whole is outstanding, and they should see themselves through to the round of 16 comfortably.
Q: Which player are you most worried about facing?
A: Even though we have to deal with Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Mohammed Salah from Egypt is the player I am most worried about facing.
He has been proving that he can play on a high level, his pace and goal scoring threat are one of a kind.
Adding to that is the fact that it will be like an Arab derby against Egypt, so that adds more of an edge and competitiveness to the match.
Q: How would you rate your team's chances in light of the draw?
A: I think we were pretty lucky with the draw but still have to deal with some good teams including the hosts Russia.
Our squad is very talented and has established a style of play that suits our abilities.
I'm not thrilled that our game against Egypt will be in the last round as that game could have been a great time to gain momentum if it were in the second round.
But, we couldn't have asked for a better homecoming game than the actual opening game of World Cup 2018.
We will truly be back for the whole world to see. All we have to do is stick to our game plan and show the world who we really are.
If we can put in a good showing against Russia, we might shock the world and make it to the round of 16, but overall, I think third place is hopeful enough.
Group stage schedule
Russia v Saudi Arabia
June 14, 2018 (15:00)
Uruguay v Saudi Arabia
June 19, 2018 (15:00)
Saudi Arabia v Egypt
June 25, 2018 (14:00)
Photos: Lagardère Sports