Saudi playmaker Al-Abed fails to make World Cup 2018 squad

Manager Juan Antonio Pizzi left the Al-Hilal striker out of the squad after watching his side slump to a 3-0 loss against Peru in Switzerland on Sunday
Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi of Saudi Arabia during the friendly match between Belgium and Saudi Arabia on March 27 2018 at the Koning Boudewijnstadion Stadium in Brussels. Photo: VI Images via Getty Images
By Neil Halligan
Mon 04 Jun 2018 05:36 PM

Star playmaker Nawaf Al-Abed was the one surprise omission from Saudi Arabia's final 2018 World Cup squad of 23.

Manager Juan Antonio Pizzi left the Al-Hilal striker out of the squad after watching his side slump to a 3-0 loss against Peru in Switzerland on Sunday.

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Al-Abed had an injury-hit season, but still managed to score four goals during the final round of qualification before being sidelined through a groin injury. He was given 22 minutes to impress Pizzi - who was appointed manager in November - against Peru, but didn’t do enough to force his way into the final 23.

Goalkeeper Assaf Qarny, defenders Saeed Al Mowalad and Mohammed Jahfali and midfielder Mohammed Al Kuwaykibi were the others to be cut from the preliminary 28 named on May 18.

Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal provide ten of the squad, with seven named from runners up Al-Ahli, in a 23 that features ten midfielders and just two striker – a hint of how the Green Falcons are expected to line-up when they face Russia in the opening match of the tournament against Russia in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 14 (KO 7pm, UAE time).

The second match sees Saudi Arabia face Uruguay in Rostov-on-Don on June 20 (KO 7pm, UAE time). Their final match is a MENA derby against Egypt on June 25 (KO 6pm, UAE time).

Saudi Arabia's final 23-man squad for the World Cup:
Goalkeepers: Yasser al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli), Abdullah al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal), Mohammed al-Owais (Al-Ahli)

Defenders: Mansour al-Harbi (Al-Ahli), Yasser al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal), Osama Hawsawi (Al-Hilal), Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr), Motaz Hawsawi (Al-Ahli), Ali al-Bulayhi (Al-Hilal),  Mohammed al-Burayk (Al-Hilal)

Midfielders: Abdulla Otayf (Al-Hilal), Salman al-Faraj (Al-Hilal), Mohammed Kanno (Al-Hilal), Abdullah al-Khaibari (Al-Shabab), Hussein al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli), Abdulmalik al-Khaibari (Al-Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al Shabab), Salem al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal), Taisir al-Jassim (Al-Ahli), Yahya al-Shehri (Al-Nassr), Fahad al-Muwallad (Al-Ittihad)

Forwards: Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli), Mohammed al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr).

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Last Updated: Mon 04 Jun 2018 05:46 PM GST

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