Posts Tagged ‘Al-Hilal Stadium’

Al-Hilal U19 v Al-Ohod U19, Thursday 11th May 2023, 8.45pm

May 22, 2023

An U19 fixture on the other side of town wouldn’t necessarily be something that I’d be overly interested in attending, particularly when it wasn’t scheduled to finish until well after ten-thirty. However, it was a chance to tick off another ground, my ninth in Saudi Arabia and all in Riyadh. That was enough to make me put in the effort and I took a taxi to the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz stadium. I’m not sure how widely used the name is and it might be more commonly known simply as the Al-Hilal stadium. Google Maps and Waze weren’t convinced by any of the names that I tried, and I ended up navigating by using the mosque next door as the destination.

On arrival I made a lap of the ground and nearly wandered into a basketball training session via the main entrance, but a group of young lads kindly directed me further around to the gate for the football.

It has been a while since the stadium was the regular home of the Al-Hilal first team. They currently turn out at the Prince Faisal stadium after having been booted out of Mrsool Park when Al-Nassr offered the landlord more cash. If they sign Messi, I suspect that they will be on the move again, to the sixty thousand capacity King Fahd ground.

This ground is ideal for youth games though, with a five thousand capacity and two stands, one covered, the other open. There’s no seating at either end behind the goals. I was in the covered stand, towards the back. If I’d been bothered, I could have removed a cover from one of the armchairs and sat in a bit of comfort, but I was happy enough with one of the tip-up seats.

I was soon joined by an old Egyptian bloke who showed me some clips on his phone of his son, Kareem, a striker for Al-Hilal. He was understandably very proud of his boy and from some of the goals on his highlight reel he looked a decent prospect. Kareem started up front, although he often dropped back into midfield to link up the play.

Visitors Al-Ohod took the lead after about half an hour and I was impressed by Kareem’s Dad applauding the goal. It wasn’t long before Al-Hilal equalized with a deflected shot and the teams went off at half-time level at one-each.

The game came to life a few minutes into the second half when the Al-Hilal left back picked up a second yellow card. Much to his Dad’s disappointment, it meant an early finish for Kareem too as he was sacrificed for a defender. On the hour Al-Hilal went down to nine men after another sending off. Their bench was apoplectic with the officials.

Al-Hilal still went for the winner despite being two players down. Their numerical disadvantage was soon halved as a last-ditch tackle from Al-Ohod on the edge of the box resulted in a straight DOGSO red. The Al-Hilal bench were happy enough over the sending-off but were adamant that it should have been a pen.

The home side continued to push for a second goal and with seven minutes of added time had their chances, including hitting the bar from a thirty-yard free kick. With nine additional minutes already gone there was another tackle in the Al-Ohod box. This time the penalty was given, and it was the turn of the visitors to berate the ref. It took four minutes for the situation to calm down and that’s without VAR.

The pen was dispatched, and the entire Al-Hilal staff and subs celebrated on the pitch as if they had won the World Cup. Within a few seconds of the eventual restart the ref finally brought the evening to an end.