Al-Hilal v Al-Adalah, Sunday 15th January 2023, 6pm

It’s great having two Saudi Pro League teams staging their fixtures at the Prince Faisel bin Fahd Stadium as less than twenty-four hours after watching Al-Shabab, I was back, in just about the same seat, for Al-Hilal’s game against Al-Adalah.

There are a lot more women and children at the Al-Hilal games and maybe that’s because it’s more likely that the whole family will come along when the tickets are thirty riyals each rather than two-hundred.

Something I have noticed at these games is that I’m the only fella with white hair. I don’t know if Arabs like to slap on some Just For Men or whether the fellas wearing the headgear are doing it to hide the grey. Maybe they just keep their old people sat quietly in the house. Whatever the reason, I haven’t yet seen anyone with a head of white hair like mine.

Al-Adalah had been given the end to my left for their fans, which was probably a little excessive given that only one fella had turned up to support them. It’s over three hundred kilometres to Al-Hasa, where they are based but I’d have thought that they must have had some fans working in the Riyadh area.

Al-Hilal started the game in fourth place, no doubt still rueing the two dropped points in their previous home game. A win would move them up to second whilst Al-Adalah are in the lower reaches of the table and not likely to be involved in anything meaningful on their own part.

I knew none of the players turning out for Al-Adalah, but I dare say that might change in time. Ighalo was missing for the hosts and as chance after chance went begging it was clear how important he was to the team.

We were an hour into the game before Al-Hilal finally went ahead from a VAR awarded penalty that was initially saved, then retaken and eventually blasted into the top corner. Al-Hilal added a second goal on the counter to make the points safe, although I’d thought that in their game against Damac on New Year’s Eve and they ballsed that one up.

Al-Adalah’s chances of a comeback faded further when they had a bloke sent off in the dying minutes for a second yellow. He got a generous round of applause as he left the pitch to the extent that he may have been a former Al-Hilal player. If so, he played his part as the home team held on to take the points and moved up to second from top.

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