Euphoric scenes as Al-Ittihad crowned Saudi Pro League champions

June 01, 2023

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Al-Ittihad of Jeddah were crowned Saudi Professional League Champions in style on Wednesday night in the presence of thousands of jubilant fans who gathered to celebrate their favorite team’s coronation after a long wait of 14 years.

Al-Ittihad, who had secured the league title in the penultimate round, celebrated their first title since 2009 by sealing an authentic win against the 8th-placed Al-Tai 2-0 in the 30th round of the league match. Wednesday, May 31, witnessed the final round matches as the curtain fell on the current Saudi Professional League season that lasted for 280 days.

Al-Jawhara Stadium at King Abdullah Sports City witnessed euphoric scenes when thousands of Al-Ittihad fans joined the celebrations, greeting their heroes. The fans erupted into joy and the sky was lit up with fireworks when Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazy, captain of the team, lifted the Roshn Saudi League Cup after receiving it from Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal. The colorful ceremony was held in the presence of Saudi Arabian Football Federation President Yasser Al-Mishal, and Saudi Professional League President Abdulaziz Alafaleq, and other dignitaries.

Earlier Moroccan Abderazzak Hamdallah opened the scoring for Al-Ittihad with a penalty kick in the 73rd minute of the second half, before Helder Costa added the second goal in the sixth minute of the injury time. The penalty goal also secured the golden boot to Hamdallah with his 21st goal of the season, and this was after a fierce competition with Al-Nassr’s Anderson Talisca, who had 20 goals to his credit, while Al-Hilal’s Ighalo came third with 19 goals.

During the match, Al-Tai tried to spoil the title champion’s joy by presenting a tough match, featuring continuous aggressive attempts to score until the last breath of the confrontation, but to no avail.

Before the start of the match against Al-Tai, Al-Ittihad legend and former Saudi national star Mohammed Noor entered the stadium, carrying the Roshn Saudi League Cup to place it on the podium, amid applause and warm cheers from the fans.

Al-Ittihad ended a difficult chapter in its historic career, during which it had been chasing a dream for about 13 years, by winning the Saudi Professional League title for the 9th time in history, after defeating hosts Al-Feiha 3-0 in the penultimate round of the tournament last Saturday.

This is also the first league title by the Portuguese Nuno Santo, head coach of Al-Ittihad, 18 months after he was dismissed by Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.

Al-Ittihad, the Asian champions of 2004 and 2005, made outstanding performances during the current season as they lost only three matches, two in the league against Al-Hilal and Al-Taawon, and one in the King’s Cup against Al-Hilal. Al-Ittihad won the Super Cup title for the first time in history after defeating Al-Feiha in a match held in Riyadh in January this year.

By lifting Saudi Pro League title, Al-Ittihad have qualified to represent Saudi Arabia in the FIFA Club World Cup, which will be held in Riyadh between December 12- 22 this year.

June 01, 2023
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