Where Omar Abdulrahman ranks in Al-Hilal's most expensive signings

Updated 10 August 2018
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Where Omar Abdulrahman ranks in Al-Hilal's most expensive signings

LONDON: Al-Hilal pulled off the biggest transfer in their history this week when they signed Omar Abdulrahman from Al-Ain. However, the UAE playmaker is only on loan and it cost Al-Hilal $17 million to bring him to the Kingdom, which is nearly double their record transfer fee. We look at the previous top five fees the Saudi Pro League giants have spent in their storied history.


$8.75m


Al-Hilal set their transfer record in 2011 when they signed Youssef El-Arabi from Caen. He only spent one season in the Kingdom, scoring 12 goals in 21 goals, before Granda snapped up the Moroccan international.

$8.17m


Thiago Neves was a roaring success during two spells at Al-Hilal, scoring 40 goals in 73 appearances. They certainly got good value from the money they paid Hamburg for the Brazilian in 2009.

$7m


The Romanian midfielder Mirel Radoi got life at Al-Hilal off to a dream start when he scored on his debut in the derby win over Al-Nassr in 2009. He proved excellent value after signing from Steaua Bucarest.

$7m


Yasser Al-Qahtani became one of the most expensive Saudi Arabia players when he made the jump from Al-Qadisiyah to sign for Al-Hilal in 2005. He spent 13 years in Riyadh, scoring 88 goals in 160 games. He did have one season on loan at Al-Ain, where he rattled in seven goals in 15 games.

$6.4m


Brazilian forward Leo Bonatini made headlines in 2016 when he swapped life in Brazil for a new career in the Kingdom. He averaged nearly a goal a game during two seasons at Al-Hilal before he moved to England. He has just signed a four-year contract at Wolves.


Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

Updated 14 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia hopeful ahead of opening Asian Games opening clash against Iran

  • Young Falcons hopeful of a semifinal spot.
  • Under-23 players keen on making a name for themselves in Indonesia.

JAKARTA: There is a widely held belief that to succeed in sport, you must start early.
Officials from the Saudi Arabia National Olympic Committee will be hoping it rings true this month as the Kingdom’s Under-23 football team prepares to prematurely kick-off its Asian Games campaign this afternoon in Jakarta, three days before the continent’s largest multi-sport competition officially begins.
Similar to the Olympics, the football tournament starts before the opening ceremony and finishes on the competition’s final day, Sept. 2. The fledgling Young Falcons face Iran today at the 28,000-capacity Wibawa Mukti Stadium in the Indonesian capital.
The Saudi NOC have brought a delegation of 169 athletes, including eight females, and will compete across 22 disciplines, including athletics, shooting, taekwondo and volleyball. The three-week Asian Games operate both as a continental precursor and, at times, a qualifying tournament for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The Young Falcons made their football debut at the Asian Games in South Korea four years ago, reaching the quarterfinals in Incheon, before losing to Iraq. Their regional neighbors were inspired by legendary striker Younes Mahmoud, who had been included as one of Iraq’s three over-age players and scored twice in a 3-0 win.
Yet the impact of Mahmoud in Korea has not influenced the team’s selection. With the Saudi Pro League starting next week, coach Saad Al-Shehri has opted to forego athletes older than 23, instead selecting a squad consisting primarily of Al-Ahli development players and a smattering of Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ettifaq-based youths.
“We haven’t brought any overage players because we are playing here as preparation for the U23 Asian Cup, which will offer qualification for Tokyo 2020,” said Faisal Almarashdi, a spokesman for the team.
“We have brought to Indonesia only players who are 21 or under as they will all be eligible for Tokyo. Many have already played at the Under-20 World Cup under coach Saad, so there was never any discussion to use the three allocated over-age slots.”
Abdullah Otayf is the model example of how Asian Games experience can help a young career. Four years ago, the deep-lying midfielder was part of the squad that traveled to Korea. This summer he was an integral part of the Green Falcons side that played at the World Cup in Russia. 
With national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi following the competition from afar, there will be chances to catch the eye for the likes of striker Haroune Camara and midfielders Abdullah Yahya Magrshi and Ali Hassan Al-Asmari ahead of January’s Asian Cup. Both midfielders have already made their full debuts for Ahli and featured in the Jeddah club’s Champions League campaign last season, while Al-Qadisiyah’s Camara was included in Pizzi’s provisional World Cup squad before being cut from the final 23.
“These Asian Games are very important for the young players involved,” Almarashdi added.
“They are the future of the senior team so if they play well here and at the U23 Asian Cup then, we hope, they will go to Tokyo 2020. From then on the pathway to the senior team is already very clear.”  
Much like the seniors, the U23 side is both short and slight, with only two of the 10 midfielders and forwards standing above 5 foot 8 (172m). Today’s opponents Iran are not only taller and more physical, they also have, in Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjčar, a manager who knows West Asian football after short spells in Qatar and the UAE. In their most recent preparation match, Iran lost 3-2 to China. 
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, beat the UAE last week in Malaysia following a pair of friendlies against local sides. Today’s match will kick-off at 4 p.m. local time, midday in Saudi Arabia.