The Arab world united to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s win over World Cup favourites Argentina at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.
The shocking 2-1 result in favour of the Saudi Falcons has been described as the biggest upset in the tournament’s history.
In FIFA World Cup 2022 host country Qatar, skyscrapers lit up in green to celebrate the massive turn of events, as Arab fans attending the tournament flocked to the streets draped in Saudi flags.
Across the border in the neighbouring kingdom, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz declared a public holiday in honour of the win.
‘You honored the Arabs’
Meanwhile, social media users across the Arab world have come together to celebrate with Saudi Arabia, with regional trends on Twitter fixated on the match.
“We congratulate the brotherly Saudi national team on its deserved victory over the Argentine national team. I wish them, and all the brothers participating in the World Cup, victory and success,” Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani tweeted.
One social media user said: “Hats off to those like you. Congratulations, God bless you. You honored the Arabs, O heroes of the kingdom.”
Another tweet said: “On this day, the men of the kingdom, the Lions team, blew up what we know of the Argentine team based on history. We see [Saudi Arabia’s] desperation, strength, and determination to win.”
An account tweeting from Egypt said: “I swear to God, the Saudi national team made my heart happy with its brave performance.
On my own behalf and on behalf of all Egyptians, we congratulate and bless the Saudi people and the rulers of the Great Kingdom, and we thank all the players of the national team for this heroic spirit.”
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is being hosted in the Middle East for the first time in the tournament’s history, kicking off in Doha earlier this week.
Notably, the world’s biggest sporting event is being held in Qatar just one year after a major political crisis between GCC nations finally came to an end after a four-year dispute.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed all diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, imposing an illegal air, land and sea blockade on the Gulf state.
However, the regional leaders buried the hatchet in 2021 with the signing of the Al Ula Accords in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
On Tuesday, the game appeared to highlight the end of such divides with Saudi Arabia at least.
‘Where is Messi?’
Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari became national and regional heroes after managing to find the back of Argentina’s net at Saudi Arabia’s debut game at Qatar 2022.
Playing in his last World Cup, all hopes we’re on Lionel Messi, who shot a left-footed strike from the centre of the box that was swiftly saved by Saudi keeper Mohammed Al-Owais.
Messi managed to get on the scoreboard a few minutes later, after nailing in a penalty in the 10th minute.
Outside the stadium, chants of “where is Messi” filled the air as Saudi fans celebrated the unexpected win.