Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Super Cup’

Al-Fayha v Al-Hilal, Thursday 26th January 2023, 6pm

February 19, 2023

These Al-Hilal home games at the Prince Faisel bin Fahd Stadium are coming around every few days, or at least they would be if this really was a home game. The fixture was a semi-final of the Saudi Super Cup and played at Al-Hilal’s home ground, but with them designated the away team.

That didn’t seem to make a lot of difference to anything apart from my plan to sit in what is normally a virtually empty section of the ground with it resulting in me being in with around three hundred Al-Fayha fans.

My Category Three ticket had set me back twenty-five riyals, which is about six quid. A bargain, apart from having to stand in a section full of people making a racket. The stewards weren’t keen on anyone breaking ranks, but I waited until one was otherwise occupied and moved thirty yards to the right to an empty section beyond the area that he was responsible for. If he was going to make me move back, he’d have to come and get me, and he didn’t care sufficiently to do that.

My new section was below what looked like a commentary box and the overhang came in very useful when light drizzle started to fall. The Al-Fayha fans to my left kept up their high tempo support despite the change in weather and were rewarded twenty minutes in when their team scored on the break.

Al-Hilal had a chance to hit back a few minutes later when the Polish guy who had reffed the World Cup Final and who was guesting in this competition gave them a penalty. Just as the fashion was in Qatar, the keeper did his best to disrupt proceedings and it may well have worked, with the spot-kick hitting the post.

The rain had stopped by half-time and with the top-tier of the open stand to my left beckoning I switched sections. A few of the Al-Fayha fans had the same idea, but anyone wearing orange colours was turned away. I’m of the age where I’m rarely suspected of doing anything that I shouldn’t and I’ve learned that a confident manner is generally sufficient to avoid any scrutiny.

I’d selected the upper tier as that was also somewhere that I’d not been in before. It filled up as the second half got underway with six young women arriving and sitting in the row in front of me. It looks as if any gender segregation is a thing of the past here and it’s good to see lots of women coming to the game. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen six women attending a match at the Boro as a group.

Al-Hilal had their chances in the second half including two close range misses that should have been put away. They couldn’t find the net though and it was Al-Fayha that went through to the final. Al-Hilal were booed off the field, which I thought was a little harsh, as there was clearly no lack of effort on their part. As I walked past the end of the ground where I’d spent the first half I could hear the Al-Fayha fans celebrating long after everyone else had left.