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23rd Nov 2022

Saudi Arabia declares a national holiday after beating Argentina in its opening World Cup match

Steve Hopkins

‘Our faith in our players was in the right place. We wrote history tonight’

Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has given the entire nation a day off after their history making defeat of Argentina at the World Cup.

Despite Argentina leading the first half after an early goal from Lionel Messi, the Green Falcons struck back twice in quick succession in the second-half to secure the win against a team among the favourite to win the tournament, and coming off a 36-match winning streak.

Saudi Arabia were ranked 51st in the world before the win.

As a result, the King celebrated the incredible win by declaring a holiday for everyone in the nation.

“It is directed that tomorrow, Wednesday, be a holiday for all employees in all sectors of the state and the private sector, and male and female students in all educational stages,” a statement from the king said.

“We are so happy about the result. It was an exceptional match from our falcons,” Ghassan Alwan, marketing director at the Saudi ministry of housing added.

“Our faith in our players was in the right place. We wrote history tonight.”

A local sports editor, Abdulrahman Abed, said: “Incredible, massive, amazing, fantastic. Congratulations to everyone. This means a lot to every Saudi. This will give a huge boost to every Arabic team in the World Cup.”

Universities were given the afternoon off for students to watch the game on Tuesday and city streets were almost abandoned, the Guardian reported, also noting that women joined men in many cafes and restaurants – a new phenomenon in the desert kingdom.

The win against Argentina places Saudi Arabia top of Group C for now.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is intent on making the Middle Eastern country a sporting superpower, also received a shoutout from the coach, Hervé Renard.

“When I decided to coach this team three years ago I found all the support. We have a great federation president and also the Ministry of Sports,” he said.

“When we met with the prince [Mohammed bin Salman], he did not put any pressure on us, and this is wonderful.”

“You know the nature of the Saudi player, when will be flying, but we must keep our feet on the ground.”

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