Saudi Gazette report
NEWCASTLE — Italian coach Roberto Mancini, who previously led Italy’s national team to victory in the European Championship, faces his first challenge since taking over as the coach of the Saudi national football team. The test comes in the form of a friendly match against Costa Rica on Friday at St. James’ Park in Newcastle.
Upon assuming his role with the Saudi national team, Mancini stated, “I made history in Europe, and now I’ve come to make history in Saudi Arabia.”
The Saudi team is currently in a training camp in Newcastle, which will continue until the 12th of this month. During this international break, they will also play a friendly match against South Korea next Tuesday.
The Saudi national team is preparing for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, scheduled to begin in November, as well as the Asian Cup finals set to take place in Qatar from January 12 to February 10. Saudi Arabia is in Group Six, alongside Oman, Kyrgyzstan, and Thailand.
Mancini has called up 26 players for the current camp, most of whom were part of the squad that participated in the last World Cup in Qatar. Notable names include Mohammed Al-Owais, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Sultan Al-Ghannam, Hassan Tambakti, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Saud Abdulhamid, Mohammed Kano, Abdullah Al-Khaibri, Salem Al-Dawsari, and Firas Al-Brikan.
Additionally, Mancini has included new names in the squad, such as Nawaf Al-Aqidi, Ali Hazazi, Raghid Al-Najjar, and Fahad Al-Rashidi.
The Saudi and Costa Rican national teams have met four times in the past, all of which were friendly matches. Saudi Arabia secured one victory but suffered three defeats, scoring five goals while conceding eight.