Argentine Ramon Diaz, coach of Al-Hilal, confirmed that winning the King of Saudi Arabia Football Cup title was the culmination of a difficult and arduous season that witnessed many injuries, absences and pressure from matches.
Al-Hilal bandaged its continental wounds by winning the King’s Cup for the tenth time and its 66th championship in its history yesterday, Friday, by defeating Al-Wehda 7-6 on penalties, after it equalized 1-1 with a fatal goal in the final minutes of the match.
The tie continued in overtime, despite Al-Hilal winning a penalty kick, so the two teams ruled a penalty shootout that saw Jean-David Bojal, Alaa Al-Hajji and Hazza Al-Ghamdi miss the penalty mark in favor of Al-Wehda.
Andre Carrillo and Odion Ighalo, players of Al-Hilal, missed two penalty shootouts, while Musab Al-Juwair managed to score after missing a penalty kick that was awarded to his team in the first extra half.
In this way, Al-Hilal compensated for its loss in the AFC Champions League final against Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan last Saturday.
“We did not perform well in the first half, but we appeared in our true image in the second, and we showed our desire to win the cup that crowned the difficult season, despite the difficulties and challenges,” Diaz told local TV station SSC.
“We are happy to crown our efforts with this precious trophy. I would like to thank the players for what they did during the period in which I supervised the team by winning the league title last season, performing well in the Club World Cup, reaching more than one final match, and then winning the King’s Cup, which I dedicate to the fans and players.”--
Al-Hilal occupies fourth place in the local league, with 49 points from 25 matches, and is 13 points behind leaders Al-Ittihad, who played 26 matches, making its chance to retain its title very weak.
The victory over Al-Wehda, who are 13th in the league and five points clear of the relegation zone, gave them their first title of the season.
International defender Ali Al-Bulayhi said, “This cup is the least thing we offer to the fans, and we promise them that the next one is better. We lost the league, the Asian Cup and the Super Cup, but thank God, our Lord, compensated us with the King’s Cup.”
“Exhaustion and injuries affected us, but after God’s success, we dedicate this championship to our fans.. In Al-Hilal, we compete for all championships. Al-Hilal will determine who wins the league when it hosts Al-Ittihad next Tuesday in the 27th round of the championship.”
Fahd bin Nafel, President of Al-Hilal, said on his Twitter account, “The most expensive cup in the club for the tenth time in its history.. Congratulations to all Al-Hilalians for achieving the 66th championship in its history. Congratulations to our heroes for what they have done in the stands and the stadium, and plenty of luck for our brothers in Al-Wehda Club.”
Tawfiq Tounsi, football supervisor at Al-Wehda Club, said, “We fought for our dream and we were not successful, but we knew the way.
“The competition in the Saudi League is difficult. The current leaders Al-Ittihad came close to achieving the title, and two years ago it was close to relegation, and this proves how difficult the competition is.”