Roberto Mancini faces first test as Saudi national team coach
NEWCASTLE — Since taking over as head coach of the Saudi national football team, Italian coach Roberto Mancini, who previously guided Italy to victory in the European Championship, has faced his first test. The test will take place on Friday at St. James' Park in Newcastle during a friendly match versus Costa Rica.
As soon as he started working with the Saudi national squad, Mancini said, "I made history in Europe, and now I've come to make history in Saudi Arabia."
The Saudi team is now in Newcastle for a training camp that will last through the 12th of this month. They will also play a friendly game against South Korea on Tuesday during this international break.
The Saudi national squad is getting ready for both the Asian Cup finals, which will be held in Qatar from January 12 to February 10, and the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, which are planned to start in November. Group Six includes Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, and Thailand.
26 players, the majority of whom were members of the team that competed in the most recent World Cup in Qatar, have been called up by Mancini for the current camp. Mohammed Al-Owais, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Sultan Al-Ghannam, Hassan Tambakti, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Saud Abdulhamid, Mohammed Kano, Abdullah Al-Khaibri, Salem Al-Dawsari, and Firas Al-Brikan are a few well-known individuals.
Nawaf Al-Aqidi, Ali Hazazi, Raghid Al-Najjar, and Fahad Al-Rashidi are among the latest additions to Mancini's team.
The national teams of Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica have previously played four times in exhibition games. Saudi Arabia scored five goals while giving up eight, leading to one win but three losses.