Al-Shabab FC – All You Need To Know About Mumbai City FC’s AFC Champions League Rivals

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Al-Shabab

Al-Shabab from Saudi Arabia will be one of the strongest opponents of Mumbai City FC in the AFC Champions League 2022 group stage. Group-B is where India’s second-ever champions league participants Mumbai City FC are placed. Eleven-time ACL participants and three-time UAE Professional League champions Al-Jazira, and 7-time Iraqi Premier League champions Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (also known as the ‘Air Force Sports Club’ of Iraq) are the other two teams in Group B alongside Al-Shabab FC and Mumbai City FC. Al-Shabab qualified for the AFC Champions League by virtue of being the 2020–21 Saudi Professional League runners-up.

Al-Shabab

About the club

Al Shabab was the first football club formed in Riyadh. The club originated pre-1947, with many conflicts before with its members, but it was settled in 1947 and Abdulrahman Bin Saeed became the president. Five years later, Al Shabab won its first tournament beating Sakit Al Hadeed (Railway Club) in Riyadh. Three years later, in 1955 Al Shabab beat the Military College to win the King Saud Cup. Two years passed, and a new conflict arose in 1957. Due to some serious internal conflicts which did not please some members of the club, the then-president Abdulrahman Bin Saeed and some members left Al Shabab and took the best players that played for the club back then in an unjust way leaving Al Shabab in chaos. The club stopped for half a year due to financial weakness, a new football club was born from the conflicts and separation with Abdulrahman Bin Saeed as the president which is the club known today as Al-Hilal.

At the beginning of 1959, another problem arose as Abdullah Bin Ahmed, the president then, was all alone taking care of the club. He couldn’t take the pressure of handling the club alone and decided to take some time off. Before leaving, he disbanded the first team, and most of the players signed for other clubs mainly Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal. Only the youth team was left, and the player Abdulrahman Bin Ahmed decided to take care of the youth, and from that, they got their name Shabab Al Riyadh which means Riyadh’s youth. Abdullah Bin Ahmed returned and announced that he will be forming the first team. Some players returned, but some stayed at Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal. In 1960 in the first official tournament called King Saud Cup for the Central Province, Al Shabab faced Al Hilal in their first official games between two and won 3–0 to win their first cup. In 1993, Al Shabab became the first club in Saudi Arabia to win 3 premier leagues in a row.

Home StadiumKing Fahd International Stadium

Al-Shabab

The King Fahd International Stadium also nicknamed “Pearl of Stadiums” or simply “the Pearl” is a multi-purpose stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is currently used mostly for football matches and it also has athletics facilities. The stadium was built in 1987 with a capacity of over 67,000 seats. It also has one of the largest stadium roofs in the world. The cost of construction was about 1.912 billion Saudi riyals or $510 million. There is a huge umbrella roof that keeps the sun off the seats and concourse slabs, providing shade and comfort in the hot desert climate.

FIFA Confederations Cup took place three times here (1992, 1995, 1997). It is Saudi Arabia’s largest stadium and it was a venue for matches of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1989, including the final match. Between large tournaments, it doesn’t stand empty either with three clubs from Riyadh (Al Hilal, Al Nassr, and Al Shabab) having tenancy, not to mention the national team. The stadium also hosted all three matches of the 2021–22 Supercopa de España which was won by Real Madrid. The semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid was the first official El Clásico to be held in a stadium outside of Spain.

Head Coach – Marius Șumudică

Al-Shabab

Marius Șumudică was appointed as manager of Astra Giurgiu in 2015. It was his third term at the club, after two short spells in 2009 and 2011. He led the team to a 4th-place finish, qualifying them for the UEFA Europa League. The European campaign was almost a success, as Astra stopped short of reaching the Europa League group stages after knocking out West Ham United in the third round, but lost to AZ Alkmaar in the play-offs. Domestically, despite the poor start which saw Astra lose to previous runner-ups ASA Targu Mures, Astra managed to finish the regular season in first place, 3 points above Dinamo București. Astra kept their momentum during the play-offs, ending up in them being crowned Liga I champions for the first time in their history, also marking Șumudică’s first domestic title as manager.

After a quick exit to Danish champions, Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League, Șumudică managed to guide Astra to the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League group stage eliminating West Ham – for the second time in a row – along the way, after a 1–0 win in London. In the group stages, despite losing the first two games of the group with Austria Wien and Roma, Astra managed two away wins at Plzeň and Wien (along with a home draw with Viktoria) to stay in the race for a place in the knock-out stages. Astra’s campaign in the league was disappointing, with the team finishing 5th and losing the Romanian Cup final to FC Voluntari.

On 14 June 2019, Șumudică was appointed as manager of the Turkish club Gaziantep. In January 2021, following an away defeat in the Turkish Süper Lig against Sivasspor, the club announced that they had parted ways with the Romanian manager, following a few weeks of tension and public discussion about his contract. On 28 August 2021, CFR Cluj terminated the contract of Șumudică, ending his 3-month stint in charge after a disappointing campaign for Europe. On 23 March 2022, Șumudică returned to manage Al-Shabab until the end of the 2021–22 season.

Five Al-Shabab players to watch out for

1) Carlos Junior

Al-Shabab

The Brazilian winger is very tricky and unpredictable with his silky skills and dribbles. Since signing last season from the Portuguese top tier side Santa Clara FC, Carlos has recorded 14 goals and 3 assists to his name. Previously he has plied his trade for fellow Portuguese side Rio Ave FC and famous Brazilian club Atletico Mineirao.

2) Ever Banega

Al-Shabab

Ever Banega is probably the most famous player in the Al-Shabab squad. He has experience playing for top clubs in the world. Since graduating from the Boca Juniors academy and representing them, the former Argentine international has played for Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla in La Liga, and also Internazionale Milano in Italian Serie A.

He was an integral part of the Argentina National Team squad in the past couple of competitions alongside fellow star players Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria. Banega has scored 7 goals and has 5 assists this season. Known for his passing ability and controlling the midfield, the midfield magician will be one of the important players whom Mumbai might not want to give free space.

3) Luciano Veitto

Al-Shabab

Next on the list is another Argentine forward who just like his predecessor boasts some top experiences of playing for the best clubs in the world. Vietto started his youth career in the Argentine club Estudiantes and Racing Club. He began his professional career with Racing Club before signing for the Spanish club Villareal FC. After a two-year stay at Villarealm Luciano signed for Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in 2015.

Vietto couldn’t get much game time for the Madrid-based side and was subsequently loaned out to Sevilla FC in the next season. It was followed by another loan spells at the Spanish side Valencia CF, Premier League club Fulham FC and Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon. In 2020 he signed for Saudi Arabia heavyweights and ACL record champions Al-Hilal FC. He signed for Al Shabab on loan in the 2022 winter transfer window as part of Odian Ighalo’s transfer to Al-Hilal FC.

4) Alfred N’Diaye

Al-Shabab

Alfred N’Diaye is a French-born Senegalese midfielder who started his career at the French club Nancy. He has played for Turkish club Bursaspor, Spanish club Real Betis, Villareal FC, and Malaga CF on loan. He has also appeared for the English side of Sunderland AFC and was on loan at Hull City FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Alfred signed for Al-Shabab FC in 2019 and since then he has made over 60 appearances for the Riyadh-based club. He has also represented Senegal in 27 matches.

5) Hattan Bahebri

Al-Shabab

Hattan Bahebri started his professional career for Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ittihad FC. After a five-year stay at Al-Ittihad, he signed for Al-Shabab FC in 2016 and played for them for three years. In 2019 Hattan signed for Al-Hilal FC, the most successful team in both Saudi Arabia and Asia. Al-Hilal had a star-studded team that consisted of top players like Bafetimbi Gomis, Sebastian Giovinco, Andre Carillo, and others. So naturally, Bahebri’s chances were limited at the club and he left them in 2021 to sign for Al-Shabab for a second spell. Hattan has scored 5 goals and assisted 8 goals this season.

Fixtures of Al-Shabab FC

Here are the fixtures of Al Shabab in the 2022 AFC Champions League group stages –

(8th April) Mumbai City FC vs Al-Shabab FC, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium

(12th April) Al-Shabab FC vs Al-Jazira FC, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium

(15th April) Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya vs Al-Shabab FC, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium

(19th April) Al-Shabab FC vs Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium

(23rd April) Al-Shabab FC vs Mumbai City FC, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium

(27th April) Al-Jazira FC vs Al-Shabab FC, Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium


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