Clash of the Saudi titans: Spot Al-Hilal and Al-Nasr’s foreign talent
The two rivals will face off once again in Wednesday’s Saudi Arabia Super Cup match
Al-Nasr and Al-Hilal are giants of the Saudi game.
In one of world football’s most compelling rivalries, the two will face off once again in Wednesday’s Saudi Arabia Super Cup match - and bolstering both teams is a roster of top foreign players.
Here’s a list of them:
Mohamed Husain (Bahrain)
At 35-years-old, Mohamed Husain is well into the twilight of his career - but his importance to Al Nassr has arguably never been greater over the course of his two-year spell at the club. Besides fellow veteran Hussein Sulaimani (37-years-old) Jorge da Silva doesn’t have much experience to speak of at the back, and so Husein is very much still an important cog in the side.
Fabian Estoyanoff (Uruguay)
Al Hilal coach da Silva recognised over the off-season that his side needed an injection of width ahead of the new campaign, and so sought compatriot Fabian Estoyanoff to help solve that deficiency - signing the 32-year-old from Montevideo club Penarol.
In Uruguay, Estoyanoff was impressively prolific - netting 20 times from 60 outings - and da Silva will be hoping that his biggest summer signing can bring that kind of goal threat to the Saudi Premier League this term.
Adrian Mierzejewski (Poland)
Eight goals in 24 appearances was a decent return for Adrian Mierzejewski in his debut season at Al Hilal - and with two more years of his contract at the club still to run there is still plenty more to expect from the Polish midfielder. At 28-years-old, he is in fact entering his peak - and could get even better.
He was a key figure in helping Al Nassr win their second successive league title last season, finishing the league campaign as the club’s second top scorer. But it was in the Champions League where he showed his true quality, and a taste of just how bright the Polish star can shine.
Kwak Tae-Hwi (South Korea)
As a seasoned South Korean international - with 45 caps to his name - Kwak Tae-Hwi is regarded as one of the most accomplished and reliable players the Saudi Premier League has. His signing last summer was a real statement of intent from Al Hilal, given Tae-Hwi’s starring role for rivals Al Shabab - and Ulsan Hyundai before that. The centre-back has certainly proved worth the fuss since then.
Alongside Digao, Tae-Hwi forms a formidable defensive line for Al Hilal - presenting Al Nassr with quite the task in Wednesday’s Super Cup fixture. Giorgos Donis understands the importance of a solid basis, and he certainly has that in the South Korean.
Having arrived in Saudi Arabia with a £6.5 million price tag hanging round his neck, much was expected of Digao upon his transfer from Fluminense back in December 2013. And indeed, the Brazilian has delivered on that promise - proving a key figure in Al Hilal’s run all the way to the AFC Champions League final in his debut season.
Now set for his third season with the Riyadh club, the centre-back is a defensive kingpin for Donis and will surely play a significant role if Al Hilal are to kick-off their campaign with a Super Cup win over their closest rivals.
Carlos Eduardo (Brazil)
Al Hilal’s capture of Carlos Eduardo in July was quite the copy, given the midfielder’s undoubted talent. At French Ligue 1 side Nice last season the Brazilian scored an impressive 10 goals from just 30 appearances - including five in one appearance against Guingamp, marking out the 25-year-old as a player of immense promise.
Of course, Eduardo was only on loan at Nice from Porto - with the Portuguese club allowing the midfielder to leave in the off-season. He is now widely expected to shine bright in Saudi Arabia, becoming the poster-boy for the country’s reigning champions.
Aílton Almeida (Brazil)
Completing Al Hilal’s Brazilian contingent is striker Ailton Almeida - the club’s new number nine heading into the 2015/16 season. The 30-year-old arrives in Riyadh with an impressive pedigree, having played at the very top of the European game (in the Champions League for APOEL, and the Europa League for FC Copenhagen) and should have the quality to make a success of himself at Al Hilal.
Ailton was only given a one-year deal upon his arrival at the Saudi club, and so there is a need for him to impress from the off. A goal in Wednesday’s Super Cup clash with Al Nassr at London’s Loftus Road would get him up and running.
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