World Cup 2018 Preview: Saudi Arabia

After battling to the final of the Asian Cup in 2007, Saudi Arabia have emerged from the wilderness to qualify for Russia 2018.

Nickname(s): Green Falcons

Best Finish: Last-16 (1994)

How they qualified: Saudi Arabia secured their place in Russia next summer following a 1-0 win against Japan in their last AFC qualifying match. The Saudis finished in second place in the group, behind Japan, but secured their place in the finals ahead of Australia thanks to goal difference.

Coach: Juan Antonio Pizzi 

Pizzi was handed the reins of Russia-bound Saudi Arabia to take over from fellow Argentinian coach Edgardo Bauza, who was relieved of the role after winning only two of the five games he took charge. The Argentinian led Chile to the Copa America title in 2016 and has six months to prepare his team for the World Cup. Pizzi becomes the third man to sit in the Green Falcons hot seat since September, after Dutch tactician Bert van Marwijk had taken the Green Falcons through the majority of qualification.

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Key Man: Mohammad Al-Sahlawi

Saudi Arabia’s dynamic forward enjoyed the rare distinction of finishing joint-top goalscorer in Russia 2018 qualifying with 16 goals. Fast feet and a rare turn of pace make Al-Sahlawi a genuine star in Saudi football, following his breakthrough campaign for Russia 2018.

Opening fixtures:

14 June vs Russia

20 June vs Uruguay

25 June vs Egypt

Squad: TBD

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