Asian champions Al Hilal begin their Fifa Club World Cup bid on Saturday, in the second round against African counterparts Esperance de Tunis. We look at some of the star performers for the Riyadh side, fresh from their 3-0 aggregate success in last month's Asian Champions League final against Urawa Red Diamonds.
The hugely popular French striker has been a huge success since signing from Turkey’s Galatasaray in August last year. His goalscoring feats in the Champions League fired the club to a first Asian crown in 19 years; Gomis striking 11 times – including in the final. Finished top scorer, and awarded the tournament’s Most Valuble Player gong.
Salem Al Dawsari
One of Saudi’s most talented players, the winger mixes direct dribbling with an eye for goal. Scored the all-important opener in the second leg of the Champions League final. Al Dawsari was one of a number of his compatriots who spent a spell on loan last year in Spain, coming on late in Villarreal’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid – his only appearance.
The Peruvian attacker joined Hilal initially on loan last season, but his displays convinced the club to make permanent his move from Benfica. Able to play on the wing or as a second striker, the tricky Carrillo helped send Hilal on their way to Asian glory with the only goal of the first leg of the final. He was named man of the match.
Yasser Al Shahrani
The effervescent full-back carries a real threat going forward, predominantly on the left. A mainstay of his national team, Al Shahrani was one of the stars of the victorious Champions League campaign, full of typical energy and enterprise. Complements well the talented Mohammed Al Breik on the opposite flank.
Transforming more and more into Hilal’s chief creator, the Italian grew in influence as the AFC Champions League campaign wore on. Signed at the beginning of the year from FC Toronto, Giovinco registered vital assists in the closing stages of the continental competition, including for Al Dawsari’s goal in the second leg of the final. Voted man of the match in Japan.
Abdullah Al Mayouf
A towering presence in goal, the product of Hilal’s youth set-up has gone on to prove invaluable for both club and country. One of the leaders in the team since rejoining in 2016, Al Mayouf forms a formidable final barrier at the base of manager Razvan Lucescu’s attacking side. Can invite pressure, but widely respected within Asian football.