Jubilant Saudi football fans celebrating deep into the night on Tuesday can rest easy with a lie-in tomorrow, after authorities in Riydh declared a national holiday to mark a shock World Cup victory.
The Green Falcons’ 2-1 win over Argentina, one of the world’s top-ranked teams, is among the biggest shock results in the history of the tournament.
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“This is football. Sometimes things are completely crazy,” Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard said. “All the stars aligned for us,” added Renard, who won the African Cup of Nations as coach of Zambia in 2012 and then repeated the feat with Ivory Coast in 2015.
In Saudi Arabia, King Salman announced a snap public holiday for workers in the public and private sectors, as well as students in the kingdom, in celebration of the win.
The announcement follows a similar move by Cameroon during the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when the unfancied African team beat Argentina and also declared a public holiday the following day.
Saudi Arabia had only ever won three World Cup matches in its history before pulling off the upset, with second-half goals from Saleh al-Shehri and Salem al-DawsarI answering a penalty scored by Lionel Messi in the 10th minute.
Saudi Arabia will next face Poland on Saturday and then take on Mexico next Tuesday in Group C.