Red hot Carrasco proud of Al Shabab's resurgence

As the conclusion to the Roshn Saudi League season appears on the horizon, after a thrilling Matchweek 30 we are no closer to answering some of the biggest remaining questions of this season.

While Al Hilal march towards a record-extending 19th league title, the battle for the final AFC Champions League Elite position, as well as the battle to avoid relegation, look like going down to the wire.

After another week of high drama, this is the best of what was said by the combatants over the previous week.


Al Hilal moved to within one point of the title after back-to-back wins over Al Taawoun and Al Ahli. The latter was rescheduled from April due to AFC Champions League commitments and came after a late winner from Michael, which goalkeeper Yassine Bounou says shows the mental strength of the league-leaders.


“As we’ve seen throughout the season the team once again showed great mental strength. We struggled a bit in the first half, but that’s to be expected given that we were up against a great team with some great players. With our experience and the quality of our players we were able to show our strength to come back and win.”



While it looks like falling short, Al Nassr continued their own remarkable season, smashing Al Wehda for six in a demonstration of their attacking prowess. Leading the way once again was Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted his fourth hat-trick of the season to edge closer to the record for most goals scored in a single season and also 900 career goals.


“Of course I am happy, but for me the main point is the team played good, we gave our supporters a good match with many goals, and I scored so of course I am happy. I hope to reach that number, but I always say that the numbers and the records come naturally. I don’t follow the records, they come in a natural way. But of course I will try.”



While they were unable to take the points against Al Hilal, earlier in the week Al Ahli had a big 4-1 win over Damac that cemented their place in third as they chase the final AFC Champions League Elite position for next season. It was a scintillating performance, that included four goals in the opening 25 minutes, including one to Roberto Firmino who lauded his team’s performance afterwards.


“This is a very important win today. We have to congratulate the team for the work we have done tonight, for the fight also on the pitch. It was a beautiful first half, in the second half we returned a little below our level, but the most important thing is the three points.”



Al Ittihad’s hopes of breaking into the top three were dealt a blow with a shock 3-1 loss to relegation-threatened Abha. N’Golo Kante spoke for the entire team when he said they were disappointed with the result, but were determined to finish the season on a high note.


“We expected something different, we wanted to win to catch the top four. But that’s not what we did and we are disappointed. I think in the first half we were in control, but in the second half we lost the game and we are all disappointed by the result. It’s not the result we wanted and we need to get the head up and fight for the last four games.”


Al Shabab continued their late season revival, jumping to sixth on the table after a 2-0 win over Al Raed. Yannick Carrasco, who arrived when Al Shabab were in the relegation zone in September, scored again, making it six goals and six assists as he helps fire them back up the table.


Al Riyadh secured a crucial point in their fight to avoid relegation, coming from 2-0 down against Al Fateh with two goals in second half stoppage time. Their coach, Brazilian Odair Hellmann, was full of emotion and pride after the game.


“My emotion at this time is too much, because it’s not easy for Al Riyadh club. It’s not easy for Al Riyadh to win at this moment. In the table we have 29 points. It’s not easy. We lose players and we don’t have the same investment (as other teams), and we win against Al Ahli and we come here for a difficult game, because Al Fateh is a very good team. It’s difficult to play here against Al Fateh. We lose one player, stay 1-0, lose one player to a red card, concede the second goal, and Al Fateh have chance to score the third. But in football the game only finishes when the referee blows the whistle. (Until then) we can play, we can try, we can give our best on the field and believe until the last second. This team, win, lose or draw, will fight until the last second.”