Posts Tagged ‘Al-Sadd’

Al-Draih v Al-Sadd, Friday 27th January 2023, 3.35pm

February 20, 2023

With the exception of the one age-group game, all of my fixtures in Saudi Arabia so far have been between top-tier Saudi Pro-League sides or else Super Cup games featuring foreign clubs. I’ve been using the Goalzz website to try and find something a little further down their pyramid and it threw up a game in the Second Division, which is actually the third tier.

The game was listed as being at the Prince Faisel bin Fahd Stadium near to where I’m staying and whilst I’d have preferred to tick off a new ground, I was happy enough with the prospect of seeing a game that needed just a ten-minute walk to get there.

I’d expected the fixture to take place on the practice pitch where I’d seen an Under-17 match a week earlier, but there was nothing going on there. I continued around the perimeter to the main entrance and, after nodding confidently at the security guard, made my way inside. He called me back almost immediately and asked where I was going. He knew nothing about a football game, but with it being third tier I hadn’t really expected that he would.

There was another fella there too, sat in his car, and the guard mentioned that he was also there for a non-existent football fixture. By this time I was starting to grasp that there really wasn’t anything going on at the stadium and it looked as if I was in for a quiet afternoon.

Fortunately, the bloke in the car had an inkling as to what had happened and he confirmed that the game was at a different location to the one that Goalzz had advised. With the security guard translating, we established that the distance was too far to walk and that I should hop in to the car.

We set off for the new location with the language barrier limiting our conversation to exchanging our nationalities and confirming that we both thought that football was good. Every now and then he would make a call and after some coaching from whoever he was speaking to in Arabic, he would tell me in English that we would soon be at the ground.

Twenty minutes and around twenty kilometres later we spotted the floodlights and he pulled into the car park of the Al-Diriyah Sporting Club. There weren’t any spaces close to the entrance gate and so my new Saudi friend temporarily stopped right outside the entrance to let me out before finding somewhere to leave the car. I gestured that I’d see him inside and left him to it. That was the last that I saw of him.

All I can conclude is that between them, he and the security guard had decided that I should see the game at the correct stadium and he had volunteered to drive me there. Quite why he didn’t want to see it himself, I’ve no idea. It was an incredibly generous action. If I’d realized that was what he was doing I’d have thanked him a lot more profusely than I did and offered him some petrol money. I’ve found the Saudi people that I’ve met so far to be largely very kind and helpful. I’m not sure many people would drive what may have been a forty-kilometre round trip to help a stranger who didn’t even speak his language.

Once inside I sat down on a raised area along the side of the pitch. It seemed as if I was in the section reserved for visitors Al-Sadd and in addition to a handful of fans at least two of their coaching staff were in there, perhaps as an overspill from the bench.

Home side Al-Draih were in maroon, with Al-Sadd in a grey kit. Whilst I’d missed the first twenty-five minutes, I hadn’t missed any goals. Nobody came close to breaking the deadlock in the remainder of the first half and it was still goalless at the break.

At half-time I went to look for the toilets. I try to be fairly careful where I wander into over here as I don’t want to disrupt anyone praying and it’s not always easy to initially spot the difference between the prayer rooms and the toilets. I found the right place though and in the absence of any urinals headed into one of the cubicles.

A lot of the toilets have bowls but this one was a more traditional hole in the ground. As I was only having a slash I was fine with that. I wouldn’t want to use one for a crap though other than in emergencies as I’m not really supple enough for squatting these days. I was mid-flow before I noticed the overhead shower and the shampoo bottle in the corner. Bugger. I was pissing in a shower. I must admit it is something that I may have done before, but it’s the first time I’ve done it fully clothed. If anyone realized what I was up to they were polite enough not to mention it.

In the second half I moved around a bit, firstly to the three steps of terracing behind one of the goals. The terracing ran around three sides of the ground, with the other side having the section from which I’d watched in the first half. That side also had an equivalent section for the home fans and a posh covered stand in the middle for people who no doubt rarely piss in the shower.

I spent a short time in with the Al-Draih fans but their drums and chanting through a microphone and amp soon had me headed back to the relative calm of the away section.

Not a great deal happened on the pitch until ten minutes from time when a home corner was acrobatically turned in at the near post. That lead to some top-level timewasting from Al-Draih, particularly from their goalie and trainer who jogged at slower than walking pace whenever he was called upon.

The situation infuriated the Al-Sadd bench, who took it in turns to berate the officials as if they had a rota. The players were little better with lots of dissent and some manhandling of the ref. There was just the one goal in it at the end and the visitors were still objecting as I headed out to look for a taxi to take me back into town.