Expect a bright future for Roshn Saudi League clubs after Saudi Arabia’s AFC U-20 Asian Cup campaign
Some of the best young players in Roshn Saudi League have been busy in Uzbekistan with Saudi Arabia’s AFC U-20 Asian Cup campaign.
It may not have been the most-successful time for the defending champions who exited the tournament at the group stage, but more important than short-term results is the experience gained in playing on the international stage against opponents from all over the continent.
Abdullah Radif was making the headlines before the games against Kyrgyzstan, China and Japan – and understandably so. The striker, just turned 20, made a name for himself by finishing the 2022 Arab Cup U-20 as top scorer as his six goals helped Saudi Arabia win the tournament.
He also scored four goals in the competition in the previous year. The Al Hilal star, currently on loan at Al Taawoun for whom he netted in October’s win against Al Wehda, has also appeared for the senior national team.
This time around, Radif scored the only goal of the game in the 1-0 win over Kyrgyzstan and then had a number of efforts saved in the defeats against China and Japan. He led the line well, providing a focal point for attacks and now returns home to a team currently flying high in the table.
Musab Al Juwayr was one of the men who tried to create the chances and one of the standouts of the group stage. The Al Hilal midfielder, who scored the winning penalty for the club as they defeated African champions Wydad AC at the FIFA Club World Cup quarter-final in February, is regarded as one of Asia’s best young talents.
The 19 year-old is a classy performer with a fine eye for a pass and a great reading of the game.
At left-back, Salem Al Najdi played in every minute of the competition and got forward well to support attacks. The Al Fateh youngster made a name for himself at the Arab Cup last year and put in good performances in Uzbekistan, getting up and down the line.
Sitting in the centre of midfield, Suhayb Al Zaid had a busy tournament. The 18-year-old, who is on the books of Al Hilal, covered plenty of ground in Uzbekistan and showed on a number of occasions that he is not afraid to let fly.
He drew a number of saves in the three games he played, especially in the final game against Japan.
Osama Al Mermesh got the nod between the sticks for all three games. The Al Ittihad goalkeeper has obviously been paying close attention to the Tigers’ number one Marcelo Grohe, who has more clean sheets than any other foreign goalkeeper in Saudi Arabia.
The teenage shot stopper made a number of good saves and showed some fine reactions, especially in the game against Japan.
Al Faisaly’s Yazid Joshan will long remember his goal against Japan, which came from a header after a perfectly timed run.
Overall, there were plenty of positives to take from the tournament and as the players return to their clubs in Roshn Saudi League, they will do so with a little more international experience under their belts.