Get to know Roshn Saudi League’s Al Fateh: Memorable title winners who boast a former Barcelona starlet, and FIFA World Cup 2022 regular for Saudi Arabia
The Al Ahsa region is one of Saudi Arabia’s most spectacular, home to one of the world’s largest oases and a number of ancient, UNESCO-listed historical sites.
It’s also home to Al Fateh, the only club not from Riyadh or Jeddah to win the Saudi Pro League in the last three decades.
There’s one name that stands out when looking at Al Fateh’s team sheet, and that is Firas Al Buraikan.
The 22-year-old has established himself as a regular for Saudi Arabia, featuring in all three games at the recent FIFA World Cup 2022, including their historic win over Argentina.
Established as one of the country’s best striking options, he is the leading Saudi scorer in the league this season with 11 goals to his name, while he also scored the winner for Saudi Arabia at last season’s AFC U-23 Asian Cup.
The club has been busy in the winter transfer window, welcoming exciting Saudi talent Khalid Al Ghannam on loan from Al Nassr, while Cristian Tello, who played 59 times for Barcelona, has also joined the club, as has experienced French defender Tristan Dingome.
In midfield, Algeria’s Sofiane Bendebka has been a consistent source of assists since joining from MC Alger in 2020.
Georgios Donis is a name known to fans across the world after his club career in Greece and England.
The experienced manager has managed some of the biggest teams in his homeland, including AEK Athens, while he also has plenty of experience coaching in Saudi Pro League.
The 53-year-old previously guided giants Al Hilal in 2015-16, winning the 2015 King’s Cup and Saudi Super Cup, the latter of which was played at Loftus Road in London.
It’s been a season of mixed fortunes for Al Fateh, with 11 wins and nine losses from their opening 22 matches.
After a shaky start to the season, losing three of their first five, they have recovered nicely with five wins, two draws and two losses in their last nine to sit sixth.
March’s 2-1 victory at holders Al Hilal – fresh from making the FIFA Club World Cup and AFC Champions League finals – provided the season’s most eye-catching result.
Since their formation in 1958, they largely played in the lower divisions of Saudi football until they earned promotion for the first time in 2009.
Their most remarkable feat came in the 2012/13 season when they pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Saudi Pro League history to claim their maiden title.
In a Leicester City-style success, Tunisian manager Fathi Al Jabal, who earned them promotion only four years only, masterminded a season for the ages, losing just two games and finishing eight points clear of Al Hilal in second place.
The Prince Abdullah bin Jalawi Stadium is what Al Fateh call home.
A stadium built in the 1980s with a 26,000 capacity, they share the stadium with fellow Roshn Saudi League side Al Adalah.
The stadium will go down in history as the place where Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first competitive goal in Saudi Arabia.