Saudi Arabia declares public holiday after stunning Argentina at World Cup

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King Salman of Saudi Arabia declared a public holiday in the country to mark the national team’s stunning victory over Lionel Messi’s Argentina at the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday.

The Green Falcons’ 2-1 triumph over one of the world’s top-ranked teams is among the biggest shock results in the history of the tournament. 

The public holiday will be for all state employees “and the private sector, and male and female students in all educational stages,” the government announced Tuesday evening.

“This is football. Sometimes things are completely crazy,” said Saudi Arabia coach Hervé Renard, who has coached Saudi Arabia since 2019. “All the stars aligned for us.”

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group C - Argentina v Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring their second goal against Argentina in their World Cup match at Lusail Stadium in Qatar, Nov. 22, 2022. Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina, one of the tournament favorites, with a 2-1 win.

HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS


After his team’s win, Renard suggested Argentina, which is No. 3 in the FIFA ranking, probably underestimated Saudi Arabia — the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament after Ghana. 

“The motivation is not like you are playing Brazil,” Renard, who is French, said of Argentina’s team.

“We made history for Saudi football … It will stay forever. This is the most important. But we also need to think about looking forward because we still have two games that are very, very difficult for us.”

Both teams still have Mexico and Poland to play during group stages.

Even neighboring rulers embraced the win: Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, congratulated the team in a tweet and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, wrapped himself in the Saudi flag.

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