Saudi Arabia move to brink of World Cup qualification with Newcastle United squad watching on
Saudi Arabia had a key World Cup qualifier on Thursday night against Oman.
Top of Asia World Cup qualifying group B with four matches to play, a win would go a long way to ensuring Saudi Arabia will be playing in Qatar in November / December this year.
Earlier on Thursday, Newcastle United revealed that the NUFC coaching staff and players would be taking a break from their warm weather training camp, to go along and watch the match at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.
A goal from Firas Al Brikan in the 48th minute was enough to give Saudi Arabia a 1-0 win over Oman, which leaves their qualifying group looking like this:
With the top two in the group automatically qualifying for Qatar, last night’s win has taken Saudi Arabia to the brink of qualification with three games still to play.
Japan and Australia have still got to play each other, so a win for Saudi Arabia in Japan on Tuesday would see qualification completed, whilst even a draw would mean realistically they’d qualified, unless a very unlikely combination of results in the remaining group games occurred.
Saudi Arabia qualified for the last World Cup in Russia, their group games seeing them beat Egypt 2-1 and lose to Russia 5-0, whilst unlucky to lose 1-0 to Uruguay with an 89th minute goal. Those results leaving them on three points and knocked out at the group stage, with Russia and Uruguay moving into the knockout rounds of matches.
As for Newcastle United, they are set to play Al Ittihad today (Friday) in a behind closed doors friendly to round off their warm weather training camp, before flying back to Tyneside on Saturday, ahead of the next match at home to Everton on Tuesday 8 February.
Today’s NUFC friendly taking place at the Prince Abdullah Faisal stadium in Jeddah.
All Ittihad play in the Saudi Pro League and won their latest game last Friday 1-0 against Al Faisaly.
This leaves them six points clear at the top with a game in hand.
Al Ittihad and the rest of the Saudi Pro League clubs also have a two week break with no matches, allowing them to play this Newcastle United friendly.
Checking out their squad, the most recognisable names appear to be defender Ahmed Hegazy who used to play for West Brom and Karim El Ahmadi, a midfielder who was previously at Aston Villa.
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