Saudi Arabia kicked off their campaign with a heart-stopping 2-1 victory over Oman, securing three crucial points in Group F. The Green Falcons’ dramatic comeback, sealed by Ali Al Bulayhi’s last-minute header, left fans on the edge of their seats.
Guided by the experienced Roberto Mancini, who recently steered Italy to Euro 2022 triumph, Saudi Arabia faced a resilient Oman side led by head coach Branko Ivankovic.
Despite the pre-match excitement, Mancini might have harboured some disappointment with his team’s performance in the opening quarters.
Oman took control of the midfield early, exploiting Saudi Arabia’s defensive vulnerabilities down the flanks.
The pressure resulted in a 10th-minute penalty when Muhsen Al Ghassani was fouled inside the box. Salaah Al Yahyaei calmly converted from the spot, sending Oman fans into celebration.
The first 25 minutes belonged to Oman, as they continued to dictate play and test Saudi Arabia’s defence. However, the momentum shifted as the Green Falcons found their rhythm, gaining better control of the midfield and possession.
Despite creating several chances, they struggled to break the deadlock. In response to Saudi Arabia’s attacking prowess, Oman’s head coach, Ivankovic, opted for a tactical shift, deploying a five-person defence to make life difficult for Mancini’s squad.
The change momentarily stymied Saudi’s relentless attacks, but it wasn’t enough to thwart their determination.
The turning point came in the 79th minute when substitute Abdulrahman Ghareeb, who entered the pitch in the 75th minute for Saleh Al Shehri, electrified Khalifa International Stadium.
Ghareeb showcased his skills by dribbling past three defenders to net the equalizer, sparking jubilation among Saudi fans. As the match entered additional time, the stadium witnessed pure euphoria.
Ali Al Bulayhi rose above the defence in the dying moments to head the ball into the net. Although the linesman’s offside flag dampened initial celebrations, VAR came to the rescue. After a thorough review, the goal stood, sealing Saudi Arabia’s remarkable comeback.
The victory places Saudi Arabia second in Group F, trailing Thailand, who secured a 2-0 win against Kyrgyz Republic earlier in the day, only on goal difference.
The rollercoaster of emotions at Khalifa International Stadium showcased the unpredictable nature of football and set the stage for an intriguing AFC Asian Cup campaign.
Fans, passionately chanting “Go, go Saudi, go to the next round, take the Cup away from Qatar” in their native language, witnessed their team’s resilience and determination.
Mancini’s men overcame early setbacks to deliver a memorable victory, leaving supporters hopeful for a successful journey in the tournament.
As the AFC Asian Cup unfolds, the Saudi Arabian squad will look to build on this thrilling victory, while Oman aims to regroup and bounce back in their upcoming matches.
The stage is set for more captivating moments in this prestigious tournament, where every goal and every victory carries significant weight in the pursuit of glory.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members