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Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

The loss of Al-Hilal ignites frantic race for Saudi Pro League title

The loss of Al-Hilal ignites frantic race for Saudi Pro League title

Saudi Roshn Pro League champions will have a historic opportunity to represent the country in the FIFA Club World Cup in December after Al-Hilal suffered a defeat at the hands of Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League finals.
Saudi Arabia is hosting the FIFA Club World Cup in December this year.

The loss of defending champions Al-Hilal has ignited a frantic race among the leading clubs in the Saudi Pro League. The winner of the Pro League will get a golden opportunity to play in the Club World Cup.

By defeating Al-Hilal to an aggregate 2-1 score in the two-leg AFC finals, the Japanese team became the official representative of the continent in the Club World Cup after winning the Asian Champions title.

Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) stated earlier that Al-Hilal would participate in the Club World Cup if it wins AFC Champions League title. However, if no Saudi team wins the Asian title, then the Pro League champions will participate in the upcoming tournament.

The Saudi Roshn Pro League champions will also have the opportunity to participate in the Saudi Super Cup in 2023, in addition to the AFC Champions League in 2024, as the champion of the Saudi Professional League (SPL) during the 2022-2023 season, according to the regulations announced earlier by the Asian Football Confederation.

Saudi Arabia will host the 20th edition of the FIFA Club World Cup from December 12 to 22. Champion clubs from various continents will be participating in the tournament, in addition to the SPL champions during the current season.

Al-Ittihad team tops the SPL standings with 59 points, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr Club is in second place with 56 points while Al-Shabab comes third with 53 points. Al-Hilal is in fourth place with 49 points while only five rounds left until the end of the current season.

Meanwhile, Hiroki Sakai, Urawa Red Diamonds defender, was named the best player in the AFC Champions League, after leading his team to crowning the title, while Edmilson Junior, the striker for Qatari team Al-Duhail, was crowned the tournament’s top scorer award.

The Asian Football Confederation indicated, on its website, that Hiroki Sakai played a pivotal role in Urawa’s journey to winning the title, especially during the two final round matches against Al-Hilal, where the Japanese team succeeded in limiting the danger of the Saudi team. Edmilson Junior won the top scorer award with 8 goals.

The Belgian striker became the second player in a row from Al-Duhail Club to win the AFC Champions League top scorer award. His colleague Machael Olunga won the award in the 2021 edition with 9 goals.

Edmilson’s eight goals came in six matches during the group stage, including a hat-trick against Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, in addition to scoring two goals against Saudi Arabia's Al-Taawoun and Iranian Sepahan.

Edmilson won the award even though he was unable to score a goal during the knockout rounds. Al-Duhail qualified for the semi-finals before losing to Al-Hilal.
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