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Date: 1/8/2019

Coaches: Fernando Barbeito / Mariano Ortega Martinez


Key Players: Mohamed Al Abas (centre back), Manaf Al Saeed (goalkeeper), Abdullah Al Abbas (left wing)


Qualification Information: 2018 AHF Men’s Asian Championship – Fourth place


History in Tournament: 1954-1995: DNQ, 1997: 21st, 1999: 22nd, 2001: 21st, 2003: 19th, 2005-2007:  DNQ, 2009: 23rd, 2011: DNQ, 2013: 19th, 2015: 22nd, 2017: 20th

The Saudi Arabian mens team are at a point where many things could change ahead of Germany/Denmark 2019, after the Federation announced that they would undertake an inquiry into the teams performance at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, where they finished sixth overall. We are very disappointed, said Saudi Arabia team manager Muhanna Al-Qamous, after they failed to make the last four.


Iraq were good, but our performance was the worst we have played in four years terrible, continued Al-Qamous. Now we must go home and study what happened and why and make some decisions.


The Saudis had started well in the preliminary round, beating Hong Kong and hosts, Indonesia. Even their middle game between the two draws in the main round was not enough as Japan took the second semi-final place from their group.


Two disqualifications against Iraq heaped further pressure on the team and the coach former FC Barcelona player and Arabic speaker Fernando Barbeito.  Barbeito took over after he left his previous job as Bahrain coach and started a coaching role at Saudi club Mudhar, before the call came in to oversee the national team, which he did alongside EURO silver and bronze medallist Mariano Ortega Martinez.


We are not reactionary, continued Al-Qamous about the Indonesia campaign. The federation will have an inquiry and there will be many meetings about this. We must ensure it is corrected before the World Championship.


But this story for Saudi Arabia is not new as on the World Championship stage they have failed to progress at all since their first appearance, 22 years ago in Japan. After winning just one game at the 2017 World Championship in France, Saudi Arabia finished 20th which on average, is around the usual position the Asian Kingdom finishes at the senior global level with previous finishes reading: 21, 22, 21, 19, 23, 19, 22.


At least the nation has not regressed, and the final ranking in France does not tell the whole story as their opening two preliminary round matches against Croatia and Belarus finished closer than their European neighbours maybe would have expected, with the Croatians winning 28:23 and Belarus 29:26 eventually after both teams had only been one goal ahead at the break.


Though the coach may have changed, many of the players preparing for Germany/Denmark 2019 will have played at France 2017, and also in Korea in January, at the 2018 Asian Championship, when they finished fourth after losing their semi-final against Bahrain and bronze against the hosts but had already succeeded in qualifying.


While Saudi Arabia may be the largest country in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, they have been completely outshone by their tiny neighbours Bahrain and, particularly Qatar, on both the continental and global stage in recent years and will be hoping that Germany/Denmark 2019 provides them with opportunity to squeeze through to the main round from preliminary group C which features co-hosts Denmark alongside Norway, Austria, Tunisia and Chile.

Follow Saudi Arabia at Germany/Denmark 2019 through their website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels.

Group at Germany/Denmark 2019
Group C: Denmark, Norway, Austria, Tunisia, Chile, Saudi Arabia

Games at Germany/Denmark 2019
All times local

Friday 11 January Saudi Arabia vs Austria (18:00)

Saturday 12 January Norway vs Saudi Arabia (17:30)

Monday 14 January Denmark vs Saudi Arabia (20:15)

Tuesday 15 January Saudi Arabia vs Tunisia (16:15)

Thursday 17 January Chile vs Saudi Arabia (15:00)


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Photo: Saudi Arabia Handball Federation