Riyadh: It was a few days back Saudi Arabia announced its final squad for the World Cup 2018. Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) took a unique manner to make the announcement, with a quirky video published through the social media which became an overnight sensation.
The 2.53 minute video is an on-screen presentation of Saudi daily lives where each player name is announced under different occasions by word of mouth in airport, college, hospital, coffee shop, saloon, theatre, marriage, football pitch etc.
In one of the scenes in the mind blowing video, a man gets a call and receives the news about his favourite player named in the squad while in the other a student throws a piece of paper to his friend which has the name of a player who also made the squad.
— المنتخب السعودي (@SaudiNT) June 3, 2018
In one scene the local hero Muhannad Assiri’s name is being announced in the holy city of Makkah as if it is in the azan, the Muslim call for prayer.
However the Malayali football buffs who watched this video were taken aback in surprise. The last name in the sequence, of the midfielder Abdul Malik Khaibari, is announced inside a Saloon in the Malayalam language while a Saudi man was getting his shave.
This is apparent recognition for the people of Kerala who makes a good number of expat population in the Middle East country. Kerala, one of the best football states in the country is also famous for its no nonsense football fan culture.
Saudi Arabia will meet hosts Russia in the opening match of the World Cup as they are making their first appearance since 2006. Juan Antonio Pizzi’s team will also play against Uruguay and Egypt in group A.
Saudi Arabia World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al Owais, Yasser Al Mosailem, Abdullah Al Mayouf
Defenders: Mansoor Al Harbi, Mohammed Al Breik, Yasser Al Shahrani, Motaz Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Ali Al Bulaihi
Midfielders: Abdullah Al Khaibari, Abdulmalek Al Khaibri, Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno, Abdullah Otayf, Taiseer Al Jassim, Houssain Al Mogahwi, Hattan Bahebri, Salem Al Dawsari, Yahya Al Shehri, Fahad Al Muwallad
Forwards: Mohammad Al Sahlawi, Muhannad Assiri