The Saudi military flew national football team defender Yasser Al Shahrani to Riyadh for surgery after his punishing collision with team goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais during the kingdom’s surprise 2-1 win over Argentina in their opening game.
Al Shahrani was stretchered off the Lusail Stadium pitch in Doha during extra time on Tuesday after slamming into Alowais’s knee.
The collision took place as the goalie jumped for a high ball in the box as the team desperately tried to prevent Argentina from securing an equaliser.
Al Shahrani, who plays for Riyadh’s Al Hilal, dropped to the ground and had to be taken off by medical teams for treatment for injuries to the head, chest and abdomen, the Saudi Football Federation said.
Federation chairman Yasser Bin Hassan met medical staff at the hospital in Doha alongside team medics and federation Secretary General Ibrahim Al Qassim and reported that the player’s condition was stable, adding that he was praying “for the player's safety and speedy recovery.”
On Thursday, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Defence shared footage of the medical flight bringing Al Shahrani from Doha under the care of doctors to Riyadh for surgery.
Saudi Football Federation President Yasser Al Mashal tweeted his thanks to the Ministry of Defence and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who ordered the flight.
Al Shahrani, who has 73 caps for his country, was taken to the King Abdulaziz Medical City Guard Hospital for an operation on his pancreas, the federation said on its Twitter page.
“Yasser Al Shahrani successfully underwent surgery to his pancreas gland yesterday in Riyadh's King Abdulaziz Medical City at the National Guard Hospital,” the federation said.
“He remains under the full supervision of the national team's medical staff. The Saudi football family wishes Yasser a speedy recovery.”
In a short video shared by the federation after his surgery, Al Shahrani thanks King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed and the Minister of the National Guards Abdullah Bin Bandar “for his attention and care since the day I arrived and until now.”
“I'd like to offer a big thank you to the medical team in the hospital for all they offered and helped me with. I'd like to also thank the Minister of Sports ― for his care and support ― his efforts never fell short, since I was injured on the field and until now. And I'd like to thank the entire Saudi population for their support and prayers. We hope to make them happier through bigger achievements,” he said.
It is not clear whether Al Shahrani will return to Doha to rejoin the team before they face Poland on Saturday.