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History and achievements of Saudi Arabian National Football Team

History and achievements of Saudi Arabian National Football Team

Saudi Arabia is without question the Arabian Peninsula's leading football nation. Since 1984, the side has contested the final of the Asian Cup five times in succession, lifting the trophy on three occasions. However, so far it has been unable to translate local success to a world level.

v       Saudi Arabia (First Blood) qualification for 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

v       Saudi Arabia (The beginning of the Journey) 1984 Asian Cup

v       Saudi Arabia 1986 World cup qualifiers for Mexico 86 

v       Saudi Arabia (Second Asian Cup) 1988 Asian Cup 

v       Saudi  Arabia 1989 World Cup Champions for Youth (Scotland)

v       Saudi Arabia 1989 World cup qualifiers for Italia 90

v       Saudi Arabia 1992 Asian Cup Japan

v       Saudi Arabia 1993 Confederation cup (The Al-Shabab Connection)

v       Saudi Arabia 1993 World cup qualifications Doha Qatar

v       Saudi Arabia 1994 World cup USA  

v       Saudi Arabia 1994 Gulf cup champions

v       Saudi Arabia 1996 Asian Cup UAE

v       Saudi Arabia 1998 World cup France

v       Saudi Arabia 2000  Asian cup Lebanon

v       Saudi Arabia 2002  Gulf Cup champions Kuwait

v       Saudi Arabia 2002  Korea & Japan World cup

v       Saudi Arabia 2004 Gulf Cup Qatar

v       Saudi Arabia 2004 Asian Cup China

v       Saudi Arabia Continue to Fall and loser their Gulf Title


Saudi Arabia (First Blood qualification for 1984 Los Angeles Olympics)

Saudi Side's first major entry into a major tournament occurred in 1984 Olympics. The team reached there on the shoulder of player Majid Abdulla. The Saudi side would compete against the best such as Brazil and prove Saudi Arabia is a team on the rise.

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Saudi Arabia (The beginning of the Journey) 1984 Asian Cup

Saudi Side started their successful journey to be the top of Asian Football in 84 when they officially won the Asian cup for the first time on the shoulders of the best Saudi striker ever to set foot on Saudi soccer's frontiers. Majid Abdullah single scored a beautiful goal to guide Saudi Arabia over China in the final when he took the ball from his own half and danced pass the whole Chinese team & the goalie to score what was to become destiny for Saudi Soccer.

*MVP Majid Abdullah scored a breathtaking solo effort goal against China in the final

Saudi Team faced huge problems in world cup qualifiers as each of its opposing teams would field 11 defenders against them and the Saudi team would not qualify for 1986 world cup. Similarly same fate awaited them in Gulf cup where fellow gulf nations opted to play defensively against Saudi team. The Saudi Team of the 1984- 1994 era was filled with the most talented of Saudi players which included the legendry Majid Abdullah Number 9, Mahaisen Al Juman (Who was nicknamed Asian Cobra) since he came on the stage in 1984 and partnered Majid to form a speedy due. They were backed by a gifted talented Fahad Al Haraifi (Al Bishi) who is known as the Musician by his fans. The skipper of the Team Salah Al Naima was also a star on the local stage as well as the continental stage, he was Franz Beckenbaur for Saudi Defense. Effective & solid in performance, the defense also included a talented Mohammed Abdul Jawed who was well known for his darting runs and pinpoint accurate crosses for Majid to convert into goals. The solid Saudi team was secured by Daeya Senior. Saudi Team also included other talented players such as gifted Yousif Al Tinyan.

Group 1
Saudi Arabia    1-1       South Korea
Kuwait             3-1       Syria
Qatar               1-1       Syria
Saudi Arabia    1-0       Kuwait  
Kuwait             0-0       South Korea
Saudi Arabia    1-1       Qatar
South Korea     0-1       Syria
Kuwait             1-0       Qatar
Qatar               1-0       South Korea
Saudi Arabia    1-0       Syria

1.SAUDI ARABIA           4  2  2  0   4- 2  6
2.KUWAIT                     4  2  1  1   4- 2  5
3.Qatar                        4  1  2  1   3- 3  4
4.Syria                         4  1  1  2   3- 5  3
5.South Korea              4  0  2  2   1- 3  2

Saudi Arabia    1-1       Iran                  [5-4 pen; Dec 13]
China               1-0       Kuwait

Third Place Match [Dec 16]
Kuwait             1-1       Iran                  [5-3 pen]

Final [Dec 16, Singapore]
Saudi Arabia    2-0       China
[10' Shaye Nafisah, 47' Majed Abdullah]

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Saudi Arabia 1986 World cup qualifiers for Mexico 86

Saudi Team failed to reach the world cup with all their talented players in 1986. A surprise loss to UAE knocked the air out of Saudi Arabia

Sub-group A
[Oman withdrew]
12.04.1985 Saudi Arabia 0 - 0 United Arab Emirates
19.04.1985 United Arab Emirates 1 - 0 Saudi Arabia

1 - United Arab Emirates 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1 3
2 Saudi Arabia 2 0 1 1 0 1 -1 1

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Saudi Arabia (Second Asian Cup) 1988 Asian Cup



Salah Naima lifted the Second Asian cup

After failure to reach the world cup in 1986 the Saudi team entered the Asian cup in Qatar and thrashed opponents after opponents and finally they defeated Korea on penalties with Fahad Al Haifi (Al Bishi) scoring the final goal that would lift the cup for Saudi Arabia. Naima lifted the second Asian cup for Saudi and Saudi Arabia proved once again that it is the best in Asia.

*AFC never had a player of the year award before 1988 but from 1984-1996 Majid played a great role in Saudi Soccer and could have easily been Asian player of the year candidate

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Saudi Arabia 1989 World Cup Champions for Youth (Scotland)

In a tournament full of surprises, Saudi Arabia's solid organization, excellent discipline and clear game plan proved decisive as they lifted the U-16 world cup for the very first time. To go undefeated throughout the competition and dispose of the hosts in the Final spoke volumes for the Saudi team spirit. Expertly managed by the Brazilian Ivo Ardais Wortmann, the Asian representatives were mean at the back, only leaking six goals all tournament, largely thanks to keeper Khalid Al-Suwaileh and defenders Sulaiman Al-Reshoudi and Adnan Abdulshkor. And the very fact they managed to win and only score eight goals in the process is perhaps the most remarkable statistic of the tournament. A new generation of soccer players was emerging that saw that its possible to achieve a dream of lifting the World cup.

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Saudi Arabia 1989 World cup qualifiers for Italia 90

Saudi Arabia again failed to reach world cup 1990 with a disastrous performance in the world cup qualifiers. Which was more of a psychological issue then question of having the talent or not, clearly the team that won in 1984 & 1988 was just reaching its prime but it was not meant to be.

World cup was eluding Saudi Arabia!!!

Second Round

[Fixtures played in Singapore:]
12.10.1989      China 2 - 1 Saudi Arabia
12.10.1989      United Arab Emirates 0 - 0 North Korea
13.10.1989      South Korea 0 - 0 Qatar
16.10.1989      Qatar 1 - 1 Saudi Arabia
16.10.1989      South Korea 1 - 0 North Korea
17.10.1989      China 1 - 2 United Arab Emirates
20.10.1989      China 0 - 1 South Korea
20.10.1989      North Korea 2 - 0 Qatar
21.10.1989      Saudi Arabia 0 - 0 United Arab Emirates
24.10.1989      North Korea 0 - 1 China
24.10.1989      United Arab Emirates 1 - 1 Qatar
25.10.1989      Saudi Arabia 0 - 2 South Korea

[Fixtures played in Malaysia:]
28.10.1989      Qatar 2 - 1 China
28.10.1989      Saudi Arabia 2 - 0 North Korea

[Fixture played in Singapore:]
28.10.1989      United Arab Emirates 1 - 1 South Korea

1 * SOUTH KOREA                    5 3 2 0 5 1 +4 8
2 * UNITED ARAB EMIRATES     5 1 4 0 4 3 +1 6
3 Qatar                                    5 1 3 1 4 5 -1 5
4 China                                    5 2 0 3 5 6 -1 4
5 Saudi Arabia                         5 1 2 2 4 5 -1 4
6 North Korea                          5 1 1 3 2 4 -2 3

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Saudi Arabia 1992 Asian cup Japan

Saudi Arabia finally lost their crown in the final in Japan a rising nation in Soccer they reached the final to be second best that day.

Group 2
29-10-1992      Saudi Arabia    1-1       China
                        [Al-Thunyan 17; Li Bang 41; ref: Sinichoro Obata (JAP);
                        att: 15,000]
29-10-1992      Qatar   1-1       Thailand
                        [Soufi 81; Areesngarkul 42; ref: Hossein Khoshkhan (IRAN);
                        att: 21,000]
31-10-1992      Saudi Arabia    1-1       Qatar
                        [Al-Muwallid 86; Noorallah 74; ref: Jouini Neji (TUN); att: 5,000]
31-10-1992      China   0-0       Thailand
                        [ref: Noh Byung Il (SK); att: 5,000]
 2-11-1992       Saudi Arabia    4-0       Thailand
                        [Owairan 4, Al-Bishi 19, 72, Al-Thunyan 64;
                        ref: Ali Bujsaim (UAE); att: 4,000]
 2-11-1992       China   2-1       Qatar
                        [Peng Weigho 44, 58; Al-Sulaiti 20; att: 4,500]

 1.SAUDI ARABIA          3  1  2  0   6- 2  4
 2.CHINA                      3  1  2  0   3- 2  4
 3.Qatar                       3  0  2  1   3- 4  2
 4.Thailand                   3  0  2  1   1- 5  2

 6-11-1992       Japan   3-2       China
                        [Fukuda 48, Kitazawa 57, Nakayama 84; Xie Yuxin 1, Li Xiao 70;
                        ref: Hussein Khoshkhan (IRAN); att: 15,000]
 6-11-1992       Saudi Arabia    2-0       UAE
                        [Owairan 67, Al-Bishi 80; ref: Rasheed Al-Jassas (KUW);
                        att: 12,000]

Third Place Match
 8-11-1992       China   1-1       UAE      [4-3 pen]
                        [Hao Haidong 15; Mubarak 10; ref: Jouini Neji (TUN); att: 40,000]

 8-11-1992       Japan   1-0       Saudi Arabia 
                        [Takagi 6; ref: Jamal Al-Sharif (SYR); att: 50,000]

Japan:  Maekwa - Horiika, Hashiratani, Tsunamai, Ihara, Fukuda,
                        Ramos, Kitazawa, Yoshida (86' Katsuya), Miura, Takagi
Saudi Arabia:   Al Rzoan - Al Dosari, Al Alwi, Al Roomi, Al Khlwi, Al
                        Amin, Al Biski, Al Muwalldi, Owairan, Falatah (65'
                        Mehalel), Al Thunyan (goal keeper also reported as
                        Saker Al-Shujaa)

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Saudi Arabia 1993 Confederation cup

In 1993 Saudi Arabia successfully hosted a major international tournament where they face top quality opponents and it basically allowed the Saudi players to overcome their psychological problems in Qualifying for World cup. Saudi Arabia came second in the tournament. This is the time when players from Al Shabab club were causing havoc in local league winning everything & continentally in Gulf and in Arab competitions. Saeed Al Owairan scored a beautiful goal against Argentina where the goalie punched the ball but the ball was hit with so much power then it kept going straight and into the net which the goalie kept looking.

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Saudi Arabia 1993 World cup qualifications Doha Qater a touch of Majid

The stage was set in Doha, Saudi's success in part also came due to a club called Al Shabab in Saudi Arabia whose Youth Academy developed skillful players that complemented players form Naser, Hilal, Ittihad and Ahly clubs.

Mainly Al Shabab offered quality players to Saudi Team such as Fuad Anwar Amin, Fahad Al Mahalel, Saeed Al Owairan, Anizi, Salah Al Dauod, Abdul Rahman Al Roomi were the cream of the crop of technically gifted players. These were not players with a lot of flair but players who were good team players and they were technically very good at their positions. The Saudi team at that stage had Sami Al Jabir just starting to cause a roar, Fahad Al Ghishian was another Hilal player who was back from World Youth Cup duties where he won Man of the match award in Saudi Arabia vs Brazil game & Daeya was the goalie that made his mark from that cup. Ghishian single handedly too Saudi Youth Team to the world cup. Fahad was the most skillful gifted Saudi player yet his potential was never harnessed but he contributed to Saudi Arabia's success.

[Top] Jawad - Fuad Anwar - Saeed Owairan - Daeeya - Khalaiwi Masad
[Botton] Fahad Mahelel - Abdullah Dosari - Ahmed Jamil Al Madani - Hamzah Salah Fallatah - Mansour Moeena

The team that started vs Iran in the final victory that took Saudi Arabia to their first world cup

The Saudi's had youth on their side, with a nervous start in Malaysia , Veteran forward Majid Abdullah was called in and he responded beating Malaysia with his trademark solo goals. Then Majid Abdullah was back again with his super header against Kuwait the other team that stood in Saudi Arabia's way and Saudi Arabia managed to go through the final round. A notable absentee was Fahad Al Haraifi who was in problem with his local club. But the Saudi team had depth.

Dying 90 minute goal from Ahmed Al Jamil got the Saudis a point against Korea!!

Saudi Arabia drew with Japan who had Kazu Miyura - Roy Ramos - Kitazawa

The amazing 4-3 win vs Iran was a terrific battle where all the Saudi players contributed.

Second Round

[Fixtures played in Qatar:]
15.10.1993      North Korea 3 - 2 Iraq
15.10.1993      Saudi Arabia 0 - 0 Japan
16.10.1993      Iran 0 - 3 South Korea
18.10.1993      Japan 1 - 2 Iran
18.10.1993      North Korea 1 - 2 Saudi Arabia
19.10.1993      Iraq 2 - 2 South Korea
21.10.1993      North Korea 0 - 3 Japan
22.10.1993      Iran 1 - 2 Iraq
22.10.1993      South Korea 1 - 1 Saudi Arabia
24.10.1993      Iraq 1 - 1 Saudi Arabia
25.10.1993      Iran 2 - 1 North Korea
25.10.1993      Japan 1 - 0 South Korea
28.10.1993      Iraq 2 - 2 Japan
28.10.1993      Saudi Arabia 4 - 3 Iran
28.10.1993      South Korea 3 - 0 North Korea

1 * SAUDI ARABIA        5 2 3 0 8 6 +2 7
2 * SOUTH KOREA        5 2 2 1 9 4 +5 6
3 Japan                        5 2 2 1 7 4 +3 6
4 Iraq                           5 1 3 1 9 9 0 5
5 Iran                           5 2 0 3 8 11 -3 4
6 North Korea              5 1 0 4 5 12 -7 2

Finally Saudi Arabia Qualified !!! While Japan had tragedy of Doha!!

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Saudi Arabia 1994 World cup USA

Saudi Arabia Entered the tournament as outsiders. No one expected anything big from them and in one friendly in Greece they lost 5-0 in a hostile crowd. That changed however when the whistle blew in 1994 in world cup when Saudi Arabia took on Holland, Morocco, Belgium and Sweden. In what could be described as spectacular. Khalaiwi & Ahmed Jamil provided Saudi team with so much security with their bone crunching tackles while the Saudi midfield was filled with players like Majid Abdullah, Fahad Al Haraifi, Saeed Al Owairan, Fuad Anwar, Khalid Massad, Abdul Jawed, Abdullah Dosari, young Sami Al Jaber. Saudi shocked the world by fighting hard vs Holland and almost beat holland. Then defeated Morocco, Striker Saeed Al Owairan scored one of his best goals for his country or by an Asian in world cup against Belgium. Fahad Al Ghishian also scored a beautiful goal and it was amazing to see him on the bench with his talent but Saudi Arabia in 1994 were so good that players like Ghisian were on the bench. Daeya kept making spectacular saves and Saudi Arabia held their heads high in the air that year. Better thing were yet to come.


*Saeed Al Owairan won the Asian player of the year award from AFC in 1994

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Saudi Arabia 1994 Gulf cup Triumph

Saudi Arabia finaly broke the curse of Gulf cup in 1994 , they have come close to winning the inaugural championship compromised Western Asian continent twice in 1972 and 1974 and both times Kuwait stood in their way. But in 1994 that was to change Captain Fuad Anwar (Also known as Fuad Amin) lifted Saudi Team on his own shoulders. Scoring in each game in which Saudi Arabia played one by one eliminating opponents and thus Saudi Arabia won Gulf cup for the first time in their history on Shoulders of one Fuad Anwar.


Fahad Al Mahalel(FW)                                            Saeed Al Owairan (CF)

(These players played for Al Shahbab club which dominated Saudi League in Early Nineties)

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Saudi Arabia 1996 Asian Cup

Saudi Arabia took back the cup and completed the hat trick to own the AFC cup for ever. In the final they defeated UAE, while they knocked out Iran in semi finals and took revenge for their round robin entry.

Group B [Dubai]
5-12-96            16:45   Saudi Arabia    6-0       Thailand
                        19:00   Iran                  1-2       Iraq
8-12-96            16:45   Saudi Arabia    1-0       Iraq
                        19:00   Thailand           1-3       Iran
11-12-96          16:45   Saudi Arabia    0-3       Iran
                        19:00   Iraq                  4-1       Thailand

1.         IRAN                 3  2  0  1   7- 3  6
2.         SAUDI ARABIA  3  2  0  1   7- 3  6
3.         IRAQ                3  2  0  1   6- 3  6
4.         Thailand           3  0  0  3   2-13  0

[Abu Dhabi]
15-12-96          16:45   UAE                  1-0       Iraq [asdet]
[Al Ain]
15-12-96          19:30   Kuwait             2-0       Japan
16-12-96          16:45   South Korea     2-6       Iran
[Abu Dhabi]
16-12-96          19:30   Saudi Arabia    4-3       China

Semifinals [Abu Dhabi]
19-12-96          16:45   UAE                  1-0       Kuwait
                       19:00    Iran                  0-0       Saudi Arabia [asdet, 3-4 pen]

Third Place Match [Abu Dhabi]
21-12-96          16:45   Iran                  1-1       Kuwait [3-2 pen]

Final [Abu Dhabi]
21-12-96          19:00   Saudi Arabia    0-0       UAE [asdet, 4-2 pen] 

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Saudi Arabia 1998 World cup France

Saudi Arabia qualified with force from their group as the top team while Iran was left to fight for the second last berth

Saudi Arabia had a dull game against Denmark, they lost the game 1-0 a very competitive game, they were out classed by France 4-0 but we all know that French team was the team of the decade in the world and what they did to Brazil in the final but Saudi left the world cup on a good note and a competitive 2-2 draw and also the world saw glimpses of a new Saudi sensation Nawaf Al Timyat


Fuad - Nawaf Yousif                                            Sami and Saeed

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Saudi Arabia 2000 Asian cup Lebanon

Asian cup 2000 could be simply defined as an example of Saudi will and determination, the Saudi team was out classes in the first game 4-1 against Japan and Philippe Trousie's side. The Saudi team then woke up and demolished every opponents it faced to set a date with destiny. Saudi Arabia controlled the whole game, Nawaf Al Timyat and Talal Mishel led the Saudi attack. Saudi even got a penalty in the game but lady luck was not on their side. Saudi Arabia eventually lost 1-0 that night but Saudis proved that they are a force in the Asian game and one defeat could not halt them.



Nawaf                                      Talal Mishel                                            Shalhoob

*Nawaf won the Asian player for the year award in 2000

Nawaf Al Timyat destroyed Kuwait with his golden goal, and went on to claim Asian player of the year for 2000. Talal single handly destroyed opponents with his speed and pace.

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Saudi Arabia 2002  Gulf Cup champions Kuwait

Saudi Arabia successfully won Gulf cup for the second time by beating rivals in Western Asia Kuwait came second in the cup.


Abdullah Al Juman Unleashes a Thunder bolt                                                     Saqri a great talented player

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Saudi Arabia 2002  Korea & Japan World cup

Saudi Arabia sensationally qualified beating the odds and on shoulders of a player named Sheehan who broke on to the team on his own will power. Unlucky for Sheehan he got injured on the last game after leading Saudi Arabia into their 3 straight world cup.

Sheehan (Nominated for AFC player of year)            Yami                             Otaibi                       Sami Al Jaber

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*Sheehan was nominated for Asian player of the year in  2001

This was the lowest point in Saudi Soccer, Saudi Arabia lost to Germany 8-0 as they were not prepared for the technical flaws in their own side which led to a near destruction against Germany. German team used the tall players to over power and out dual Saudi players and destroyed Saudi Team. This was the first time Saudi players just gave up their will was broken.


The Saudis bounced back and showed a great determination to fight off with Cameroon who were African Champions , but they missed so many chances and Cameroon managed to get a win, a bad world cup finally ended with a rain drenched game vs Ireland where it was very hard to mark players competed with Ireland


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Saudi Arabia 2004 Gulf Cup Qatar


Saudi Arabia gradually bounced back form disaster of world cup, and took gulf cup with style with a new younger team, defeating all the western Asian nations convincingly to lift the gold



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Saudi Arabia 2004 Asian Cup China

A disastrous exit form first round too many players were injured, Saudis were missing their goalie they had to use 6th available goalie to play the competition their star Midfield player Noor & Daeya was injured Hussein Abdul Ghani was not selected.

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Source: Saudi Arabian Football Federation