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Saudi Arabia declares public holiday after historic win against Argentina

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(Last Updated On: November 23, 2022)

Saudi Arabia shocked Argentina in the World Cup on Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Lionel Messi’s side, prompting an outpouring of Arab pride amidst the first staging of soccer’s top tournament in the Middle East, Reuters reported.

King Salman declared a public holiday in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to mark the achievement, a feather in the cap of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who recommended the royal order state media said.

Prince Mohammed was not seen at the match but had been front and centre at the tournament opening on Sunday.

According to Reuters one of Prince Mohammed’s brothers, Prince Saud, posted pictures on Instagram showing the crown prince prostrating in thanks to God in a room where his other brother Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz was also present, shown holding a Saudi flag and standing next to a smiling crown prince.

It was also a sweet moment for host Qatar, facing intense criticism over human rights in the conservative Muslim country. Qatar’s emir draped the Saudi flag over his shoulders at the match. A Doha skyscraper flashed “Congratulations Greens.”

“Wow! I have all the feelings right now. We beat Argentina, one of the great teams!” said Saad from Riyadh who is in Qatar for two weeks and was wearing a green Saudi Falcons scarf.

“Our guys played so well – everything went right inside the stadium today. It was amazing.”

On his fifth and final quest for the only major trophy to elude him, Messi, 35, scored a 10th minute penalty in a dominant first half display by Argentina during which he and Lautaro Martinez also had a combined three goals disallowed for offside, Reuters reported.

But Saudi Arabia, the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament after Ghana, threw caution to the wind at the start of the second half, charging at Argentina in front of a frenzied 88,012 crowd to end their opponents’ 36-game unbeaten run.

The entire game was played in an extraordinary atmosphere at the Lusail Stadium, with Argentina’s traditionally massive and raucous following matched by the thousands of Saudis who had come over the border to cheer on their team.

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Cristiano Ronaldo close to signing deal with Saudi Arabian club

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2022)

Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes are reportedly close to agreeing to a lucrative deal for Portugal’s captain after his contract with Manchester United was terminated earlier this month.

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly set to agree a deal to join Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.

The 37-year-old is said to have agreed to a two-and-a-half year deal worth $225 million per year, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.

Al Nassr, who have won the Saudi Pro League nine times but not since 2019, are said to have offered way more than any European or MLS club could offer.

Chelsea are said to no longer be interested in signing the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, while Newcastle – who are owned by a Saudi-led consortium – are also believed to have distanced themselves from making a move.

Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn said on Tuesday that the Bundesliga champions are not in talks to sign the Portugal international.

He said: “We have a clear idea, a clear philosophy of how our squad should be put together. We all appreciate him, there is no discussion.

“We all love Cristiano Ronaldo, but that is something that doesn’t fit into our idea.”

The decision to terminate his contract came after Ronaldo criticized the Manchester United board, manager Erik ten Hag and the club’s infrastructure in an interview with Piers Morgan earlier this month.

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Tuesday’s Matches: Qatar, Iran and Wales exit World Cup

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2022)

This year’s FIFA World Cup tournament has come to an end for Qatar, Iran and Wales after losing their group stage matches to Netherlands, US and England respectively on Tuesday.

Qatar was the first to be eliminated after losing their first two matches in Group A. The Qataris had already failed to advance to the knockout stage after an early 3-1 loss to Senegal.

For the hosts, their campaign at the World Cup ended with a loss against Netherlands on Tuesday. Despite making their World Cup debut, Qatar are now the first World Cup hosts to lose all three group matches.

The next match saw the US defeating Iran 1-0 in their last group stage match. Iran became the second Asian country to be eliminated following Qatar’s exit.

A first half goal from Christian Pulisic gave the Americans the lead. In the 38th minute, Pulisic collided with Iran’s goalkeeper in the process of scoring the sole goal of the match and had to leave the field for several minutes but was later able to return and finish out the first half. He was replaced at halftime.

The win earned United States a seat in the round of 16. They will now take on the Netherlands on Saturday in an elimination game.

Tuesday was the first time that the United States had faced Iran in over 20 years. In 1998, Iran beat the United States 2-1 which was their first-ever World Cup victory.

Alongside the Netherlands and the United States, England also secured their knockout stage spot after beating Wales 3-0.

It was the first time British teams had met at a World Cup and saw the two sides take a knee before their match as a gesture of solidarity in the fight against discrimination.

On the field on Tuesday, England was able to outplay Wales 3-0 after a double from Marcus Rashford and a third goal from Phil Foden.

For Senegal, Kalidou Koulibaly scored the winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Ecuador on Tuesday, putting his team into the round of 16 despite the absence of the injured Sadio Mane, the team’s best player and one of the best strikers in the world.

Only a win against Ecuador would have taken Senegal through to the next round from Group A, and Koulibaly scored the goal that made it happen at Khalifa International Stadium.

 

Where to watch

Afghan fans need not miss out on any of the excitement of this year’s tournament which is being broadcast live and exclusively by Ariana Television in Afghanistan.

For the full broadcast schedule CLICK HERE

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Biden cheers US World Cup win over Iran: ‘They did it, God love ‘em’

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2022)

American soccer’s first fan, President Joe Biden, couldn’t hold back his excitement Tuesday when the US team beat Iran 1-0 in their FIFA World Cup match.

Biden, who had been at a Michigan technology plant, broke out of the crowd and raced back on stage to tell his audience that the US had beaten Iran 1-0.

The president, who had just finished speaking at the SK Siltron plant in Bay City, was mingling with guests while the match was on.

Biden, 80, was so anxious to deliver the good news that he was drowned out at first by a band playing music, New York Post reported.

“US 1, Iran 0, the game is over!” the president finally shouted to cheers, applause and a chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

“U-S-A! U-S-A!” Biden joined in, adding: “That’s a big game, man.”

“When I spoke to the coach and the players I said, ‘You can do this.’ They went ‘ehhhh,’” the president went on, recalling his good-luck conversation with the team before the tournament got underway. “They did it, God love ‘em,” he said.

The US went undefeated in group play, drawing 1-1 with Wales on Nov. 21 and 0-0 with England on Friday before edging Iran on a first-half goal by Christian Pulisic.

The US will try to keep their tournament going on Saturday morning against the Netherlands.

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