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Al-Hilal nonstop retired timely reminder that they stay Saudi Arabia’s premier nine connected nan large stage

LONDON: Al-Hilal are into nan FIFA Club World Cup semifinals for nan 3rd clip successful 4 years.

Yes, Al-Hilal. Remember them? Four-time Asian champions and three-time defending Saudi Pro League champions. That Al-Hilal. Ring a bell?

For those conscionable tuning their antennae to Saudi shot for nan first clip complete nan past fewer months, location was only 1 nine dominating nan headlines, and it was not nan reigning AFC Champions League winners.

It was, of course, Al-Nassr aft their headline-grabbing signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, which catapulted them into nan world consciousness for illustration nary nine from Saudi Arabia had ever achieved. Not moreover Al-Hilal.

To item conscionable really overmuch nan yellowish half of Riyadh was dominating nan narrative, 1 UK-based pundit moreover claimed Al-Nassr were nan astir successful Saudi broadside successful caller years — contempt Al-Hilal winning 5 of nan past six Saudi Pro League titles.

Al-Hilal? They were formed arsenic a specified footnote to nan Al-Nassr-Ronaldo storyline. The Ronaldo-shaped protector formed not conscionable complete Al-Hilal but each different Saudi nine was difficult to escape.

All that world attraction connected their Riyadh rivals, while they were still serving a transportation prohibition and incapable to antagonistic nan signing of Ronaldo pinch a move of their own, would person stung a nine that has made nan AFC Champions League last successful 3 of nan past 4 seasons — thing Al-Nassr has not yet managed to execute moreover once.

While nan world has been engaged occupying itself pinch each utilization of Al-Nassr and Ronaldo — and clips of his first extremity for his caller nine were shown successful each corners of nan globe complete nan past fewer days — Al-Hilal person served a timely reminder that, not only do they still exist, but that they do their champion talking connected nan transportation and person nary volition of ceding thing to their crosstown rivals.

Their melodramatic triumph complete Wydad Casablanca astatine nan Club World Cup successful Rabat connected Saturday was a immense connection from Ramon Diaz’s side: “Don’t hide astir us.”

The triumph was each nan much awesome fixed that they are still missing a number of their champion players done injuries sustained successful Saudi Arabia’s stunning triumph complete Argentina successful Qatar conscionable complete 2 months ago.

Talisman and midfield maestro Salman Al-Faraj and energetic full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani some stay sidelined and were absent from nan squad that silenced nan parochial Wydad fans wrong nan Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.

But while nan seasoned duo were absent, location were a big of different World Cup stars connected show, including Saud Abdulhamid, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Kanno and prima man Salem Al-Dawsari.

The only sour statement successful an different historical triumph was nan reddish paper for Kanno, whose absence from midfield against Brazil’s Flamengo connected Tuesday could beryllium sorely felt, particularly pinch Al-Faraj already missing.

Al-Hilal’s transition to nan semifinals continues a aureate play for Saudi football, pinch nan nationalist team’s heroics successful Qatar caller successful nan representation and Ronaldo’s signing generating world attraction for nan home convention nan likes of which has ne'er been seen before.

But for a nine for illustration Al-Hilal, playing astatine nan pinnacle of nan nine crippled is not conscionable wherever they want to be, it is wherever they expect to be. On some erstwhile occasions they person played astatine nan Club World Cup, they person besides precocious to nan semifinals; losing to Flamengo successful 2019 earlier coming up short against Chelsea successful nan 2021 edition.

They will beryllium hoping it is 3rd clip fortunate successful Morocco, but opinionated successful their measurement again will beryllium Flamengo.

Such is nan belief and mindset of nan nine that, erstwhile players for illustration Odion Ighalo and Al-Dawsari mention they are not conscionable playing to dress up nan numbers but person ambitions of winning nan Club World Cup, it is not conscionable hubris.

Do not norm them retired from becoming conscionable nan 3rd Asian nine to make nan last of nan Club World Cup because Al-Hilal does not conscionable expect success, it demands it. The sanction carries an aura correct astir nan continent. They are nan apical dogs and, much importantly, they cognize it. Not conscionable that, they revel successful it; being nan halfway of attention, nan envy of each others, is what they crave most.

“The nine has to beryllium astatine nan top, always, to meet our fans’ hopes, to triumph nan astir trophies,” nine fable Nawaf Al-Temyat, who retired successful 2008, told Arab News successful 2021.

“Any subordinate who can’t play nether unit won’t beryllium a superstar. Playing nether unit is simply a cardinal facet to show nan existent characteristic of nan player. This is what nan young players must learn,” he added.

One subordinate who mastered playing nether unit is arguably nan club’s top player, Sami Al-Jaber. During a sparkling profession that spanned almost 20 years, he played and won everything for Al-Hilal.

“Al-Hilal is not conscionable a shot club, Al-Hilal is simply a legacy, it’s a very large bequest successful Saudi Arabia and nan region,” he told Arab News backmost successful 2017.

“(It’s) conscionable for illustration my family, conscionable for illustration location and my family. It’s a nine that has a bequest and it’s much than conscionable a shot club. You tin spot nan history, and successful Asia I would opportunity it’s No. 1.

“I can’t opportunity immoderate much than nan nine is much than a shot club, it’s a community.”

While nan Club World Cup whitethorn not make nan aforesaid emotion arsenic its world counterpart, it still comes pinch important world vulnerability and Al-Hilal will bask successful taking nan spotlight distant from Al-Nassr, moreover if conscionable momentarily.

How could anyone hide Al-Hilal?