The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has produced its first shock moment of the tournament after Saudi Arabia roared back to defeat South American juggernaut Argentina in a 2-1 win at Lusail Iconic Stadium earlier today.
Early second-half goals from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari canceled out Lionel Messi’s effort from the penalty spot in the 10th minute, securing what will surely go down as one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history despite Argentina’s dominance both in possession and in chances generated.
But supporters will hardly care how the win came about, and certainly Saudi Arabia’s sitting monarch King Salman does not either after he announced that tomorrow will be a national holiday in honor of their national team’s achievement.
Featuring in its sixth World Cup tournament after making its debut at USA ‘94, aṣ-Ṣuqūr Al-ʿArabiyyah (The Arabian Falcons) are never a favored nation when they qualify and came into 2022 ranked 51st, which comes in stark contrast to an Argentina outfit that had not tasted defeat in 36 matches in all competitions while sitting 3rd in the rankings and seen as a real tournament favorite.
It was just the fourth win in Saudi’s tournament history who came into proceedings with a 3-2-11 record and a -28 goal difference while many remember them so infamously for being thrashed 8-0 by Germany back in 2002.
This result will throw the script right on its head and with Mexico and Poland currently deadlocked at nil-nil at the time of writing, neither side can come into what they first thought as a guaranteed three points and expect that result.
For all of the controversy and downright shocking narratives that continue to dominate the Qatari tournament, this is what the World Cup is about at its core.
And though many, including myself, would have loved to see a Messi swansong in what will be his final major tournament for Argentina, millions would have watched, witnessed, or read about this result and be reminded that fairytales do exist.