"You can be sure that next season we are going to have a lot of fun”

It’s finally official: Al Hilal are the 2023-24 Roshn Saudi League champions.

Their 4-1 win against Al Hazem in Matchweek 31 rubber-stamped what has been a remarkable season for Jorge Jesus’ side, who will now look to finish the campaign undefeated.

Elsewhere, there were major moves in the race for third and in the battle to avoid relegation, leaves both chases finely balanced with three games remaining.

With so much to talk about, this is the best of what was said across the country in the past week.

The celebrations in Riyadh are continuing after Al Hilal were crowned champions, with coach Jorge Jesus paying credit to his team after securing the title with three games to spare ahead of fierce rivals Al Nassr.

“WE ARE CHAMPIONS! Thank you to everyone for this incredible season! Thank you to my players for never giving up and always fighting for the best result. Thank you to the club for providing us with all the conditions to go through this journey.  

“Thank you to my coaching staff for always being by my side. And finally, thank you to our fans for always believing in us and for providing us with incredible moments in various stadiums! This title belongs to everyone! Thank you!”

Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of the key signings for Al Hilal this season, and the 32-year-old was in a jubilant mood afterwards as he secured a first league title as a professional.

“We are really happy to today. First title for me in my career, so I am really happy. It was a tough league with a lot of good teams. Today we can be very happy with our work; we worked very hard and made a lot of sacrifices.

“But, today, it’s our day and we can be happy. Now we are going to continue to try to win the games, to be the champions unbeaten in this league. For us, we have to keep on working.”

While injury prevented Neymar from playing a meaningful role this season, the Brazilian was still in the thick of the celebrations as he continues his rehabilitation, promising big things for his return next season.

“I am very happy obviously; winning titles is always good. The best thing would have been being on the pitch, but I am so happy for my teammates. [The fans] are unbelievable. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to give them the happiness they deserve, but you can be sure that next season we are going to have a lot of fun.”

Al Ahli took a major step towards securing AFC Champions League Elite qualification with a 2-1 win over Al Shabab in Riyadh. The victory for the third-placed side opens a six-point gap to Al Taawoun in fourth. After the game, star man Roberto Firmino praised the team’s performance.

“It was a good job from the team tonight; I was very happy and proud of the spirit that we showed. It was a final for us - these three points were very important for us to keep our goals and I am very proud.”

Al Ettifaq scored one of their biggest wins, both in scoreline and significance, with a thumping 5-0 victory on the road against Al Ittihad - helped by a hat-trick from Karl Toko Ekambi. After going winless in their previous three, manager Steven Gerrard was thrilled with the response from his side.

“It was a very strong collective performance from the players. I think you saw a group of players that were really fired up, really tuned in; everyone doing the job for the team.  

“It was the perfect response and reaction to a poor result last week. We’ve been strong with the players this week; we challenged them and we’ve prepared really well, and we have come here and delivered a fantastic all-round performance.”

Al Riyadh’s good form continues, this time earning a 0-0 draw against Al Taawoun and another valuable point in their fight to avoid relegation. It made it now five points from their past three games, meaning they sit two places and two points above the drop. Jamaican international Andre Gray paid credit to the resolve in the team.

“They are fourth, so they’re a very good team. We knew it was going to be a difficult game, but the situation we’re in now it’s important that we don’t drop points. So, taking five points against three of the biggest teams in the league is good.”

Al Wehda arrested a worrying form slump that had seen them win only one of their previous 13 games, with two goals from Odion Ighalo securing a 2-1 victory against Al Khaleej. Manager Georgios Donis paid credit to the fighting spirit of his players after a difficult second half of the season.

“First of all, I want to congratulate my players, because what they are suffering all this year with a lot of injuries, it’s very difficult to play under stress and to fight. It was a very important game and very important win.

“My team was very well organised; we didn’t give a lot of space to the opposition. But these types of games, under stress, the details are very important. My players gave everything, and we are happy with the three points.”