King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia has declared a public holiday in reaction to his country’s historic win over Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the World cup on Tuesday.
The Asian country ranked 51 in the world, shocked football fans throughout the world
with an incredible 2-1 victory over the tournament’s favorites. A day off for its 35 million citizens was swiftly declared by King Salman on Twitter so they could fully celebrate the historic game.
The country’s official tweet which was translated read: “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.”
Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, 35, opened the scoring for Argentina from the penalty spot in the 10th minute in a dominant first-half performance by Argentina, he and Lautaro Martinez also had three goals disallowed for offside.
But Saudi Arabia pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the tournament’s history by making an astonishing comeback in the second half with goals from Saleh Al-Shehri in the 49th minute and S. Al Dawsari in the 53rd.
Jubilation in Saudi Arabia
“Thank God, the players were up to it and we wiped them,” Saudi fan Abdelaziz al-Khwatem said. “They were relying on one player, we competed as a team and we wiped them, we are up to it. Watch out for Saudi Arabia because when it hits, it hurts.”
“We are so happy about the result. It was an exceptional match from our falcons,” said Ghassan Alwan, 42, marketing director at the Saudi ministry of housing. “Our faith in our players was in the right place. We wrote history tonight.”
Happiness also spread to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s close circle, as seen in photos of him hugging his brothers after the final whistle, as well as to sports cafes and public parks all around the country.
A long row of vehicles with veiled women standing in their open sunroofs and waving the Saudi flag could be seen on Saudi television.
It was also a happy moment for the host nation, Qatar, which has been under fire for its strict laws on human rights in the conservative Muslim nation. At the game, the emir of Qatar carried the Saudi flag on his shoulders.
A skyscraper in Doha flashed: “Congratulations Greens.”
“One for the books,” Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard said after the game. “Sometimes things are completely crazy.”
Prior to the World Cup encounter on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia has only won three games in its history.
“All the stars aligned for us,” said Renard, who led Zambia to victory in the African Cup of Nations in 2012 and then led Ivory Coast to victory in 2015. He took over the management of the Saudi Arabia national team in 2019.
“We made history for Saudi football,” Renard said. “It will stay forever. This is the most important. But we also need to think about looking forward because we still have two games that are very, very difficult for us.”
Group C opponents Mexico and Poland must yet be faced. Poland is scheduled for this coming Saturday.
A disappointing start for Argentina
“There are no excuses,” Messi said after the historic defeat. “We are going to be more united than ever.
“This team is strong and we have shown it in the past. We did not expect to start in this way, but things happen for a reason.
“Now we have to win, it depends on us. I ask the fans to trust us. This group will not let them down.”