• Asian Cup
  • 25 December 2018

20 Minutes before the "Dream" and Al Naima Shouted: All Need to Defend ... Forget about Attacking

On December 16, 1984, the Saudi National Team met its Chinese counterpart on Kallang Stadium in Singapore to determine Asia champion. Feelings are affected by fears of the first participation in history and the encounter with the strongest Asian team of the time. Hence, the courageous "defenders" of the "green-shirted" team had to have self-control in the most important "football evening".

The attackers did their bit and hit the nets in that hard night; it was hard in everything, not only physically, but also mentally. After the "Hawks" prevailed with two goals in such historical confrontation, Defender Saleh Al-Naima speaks about the "sign language" between him and Majid Abdullah, saying: "He pointed with his finger at the left and so I shot the ball in the direction he asked in order to engage the goalkeeper alone, but he was injured before he shot and was unable to continue the match."

Al-Naima added: "I realized then that there were only 20 minutes left in the match, and at that point we were facing intense pressure from the Chinese team. So, I shouted repeatedly, calling all my colleagues back to the defense and to forget about the attack now, and not to keep the ball in the back lines and to kick it away to exhaust the opponent".

Al-Naima, the "young leader," succeeded in spreading a new spirit in the players, with unforgettable instructions, and so the Chinese danger faded and all their attempts were broken on the "green-shirted" team's rock. Then, Saleh carried the precious Cup after an epic encounter and a difficult journey, for Singapore to announce the birth of a "new giant for the continent".

The "defense emperor" recalls: "A short distance separated the Los Angeles Olympics finals, which witnessed results lower than the ambitions, and the Asian Nations finals. Many did not expect that we will leave this footprint".

The 1984 Asian Nations Cup was the first time for the "green-shirted" team to participate. Al Naima said: "The finals included undefeatable teams then, with China at the top, Korea the strongest ever, Kuwait the hardest worker, as well as Iran, which is why many did not require us to bring the title before the championship, but we have proved to everyone that the Saudi team is here."

Saleh Al-Naima played with the "Hawks" at the Singapore Finals in 1984 after he had an injury that deprived him from participating in the "Los Angeles Olympics", but he was recovered on time and carried the team badge in the first time for the National Team to win the title, and later on he won with his colleagues the "Asian Nations" championship again in 1988, thus becoming the first Arab leader to carry two Asian cups on two consecutive occasions.

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