Saudi Team of the Season 2019/20: Brad Jones makes the cut, but does Bafetimbi Gomis?

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The 2019/20 Saudi Professional League isn’t officially concluded but given its suspension because of COVID-19, its continuation – August 20 has been proposed – would almost feel like a new mini-campaign to check off the remaining eight fixtures.
As such, it seems only fair to acknowledge the players who have performed admirably during the course of the normal campaign.
We put together a Team of the Season for each of Europe’s top five divisions. Here is the turn of the Middle East’s leading competition.
In this edition, we picked 22 of the best performing players in the Kingdom. We pitted players in each position against each other using polls on Sport360 Saudi’s Instagram Stories and let you decide who deserved to make the final XI.
Follow our Instagram page to get involved. Here’s what our SPL Team of the Season looks like: View this post on Instagram هذي نتيجة تصويتكم لتشكيلة الموسم.. من تختارون الكابتن ؟ A post shared by سعودي 360 (@sport360_saudi) on May 20, 2020 at 7:35am PDT GK: BRAD JONES (AL NASSR)
Brad Jones (r) (EPA).
Precious little can separate ex-Australia goalkeeper Jones and Al Hilal’s Abdullah Al Mayouf, on or off the pitch. The tightest of votes, however, witnessed the former edge ahead. A leading 10 clean sheets among shot stoppers in 2019/20 reinforces the ex-Liverpool back-up’s case, plus Nassr’s rearguard has been breached only 16 times in 22 matches.
RB: SULTAN AL GHANAM (AL NASSR)
Sultan Al Ghanam (c) (EPA).
Al Ghanam just keeps getting better and better. 2018/19’s title run was, clearly, not the limit of his ambitions. This term has witnessed him cement his status as Saudi Arabia’s starting right-back on the back of recording 82 crosses in the SPL, with accuracy of 35.4 per cent. Al Hazem’s, otherwise excellent, Osama Al Khalaf never stood a chance.
CB: JANG HYUN-SOO (AL HILAL)
Jang Hyun-soo (l) (EPA).
Razvan Lucescu made the bold early call last summer of ditching Socceroos centre-back Milos Degenek and drafting in ex-South Korea international Jang from FC Tokyo. This switch proved inspired. Hilal have conceded just 12 goals in Jang’s 15 starts, while he remains a key component of the side that swept to 2019 AFC Champions League glory. Nassr’s Maicon was justly edged.
CB: IGOR ROSSI (AL FAISALY)
Igor Rossi (r) (EPA).
The Brazilian is nothing short of a warrior at the back for fifth-placed Faisaly and a clear winner ahead of Nassr’s Abdullah Madu. This inspirational leadership has witnessed the ex-Hearts centre-back produce the most interceptions (175) and joint-second-most blocked shots (19).
LB: YASSER AL SHAHRANI (AL HILAL)
Yasser Al Shahrani (r) (EPA).
Name a defender in Asia, let alone the Middle East, who is better than Al Shahrani? It’s a tough ask. The 27-year-old is a model of consistency for club and country, also being renowned for his dedication off the pitch. A return of three assists and five clean sheets put him well clear of Al Taawoun’s Nildo Petrolina.
DM: PETROS (AL NASSR)
Petros (r) (EPA).
A performer of enormous influence for the reigning champions. Petros helps make Nassr tick, with a burgeoning partnership at the base of midfield with Saudi Arabia prospect Mukhtar Ali one to watch in the seasons ahead. The ex-Sao Paulo and Real Betis battler leads the way in the SPL with 1,309 passes, 103 more than anyone else. Cameroon and Al Raed’s Arnaud Djoum could not compete with that.
CM: ANSELMO (AL WEHDA)
Anselmo (EPA).
Anselmo’s ability to bring his game into a new level has been one of this term’s best stories. Coach Jose Daniel Carreno’s belief transformed the 31-year-old from solid defensive midfielder into a devastating all-round threat. A devastating seven goals and two assists followed November’s offensive redeployment for the third-placed side. Al Ittihad’s Abdulelah Al Malki did not, quite, reach these heights.
RW: ANDRE CARRILLO (AL HILAL)
Andre Carrillo (r) (EPA).
The slenderest of margins put Hilal’s Peru winger, Carrillo, ahead of Nassr’s Morocco wide man Amrabat. The latter is, by some distance, the division’s outstanding dribbler and crosser. Yet Carrillo offers greater dynamism, while an average of 8.4 dribbles per 90 minutes this season is highly competitive. Memories of November’s opener in the 2019 ACL final versus Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds also endure.
AM: YOUSSEF EL JEBLI (AL FAISALY)
Youssef El Jebli (c) (EPA).
El Jebli was a, virtual, unknown to audiences outside the Eredivisie when at De Graafschap. A bargain summer switch to Al Faisaly has inspired a run of virtuoso performances for a side that requires attacking efficiency. The Dutch playmaker has met this remit, leading the way in the SPL with nine assists. It required this level of excellence to tune out promoted Abha’s superb Tunisia creator Saad Bguir.
LW: SALEM AL DAWSARI (AL HILAL)
Salem Al Dawsari (l) (EPA).
The brightest Saudi talent of his generation and a justified victor, ahead of Hazem’s Moroccan Driss Fettouhi. Al Dawsari has only recorded two goals and two assists, yet it is his rare ability to twin attacking exuberance with defensive responsibility that sets him apart. A key cog in Lucescu’s march to continental and domestic joy.
ST: ABDERRAZAK HAMDALLAH (AL NASSR)
Abderrazak Hamdallah (l) (EPA).
In a field stacked with ruthless strikers, Hamdallah stands apart. The Nassr pugilist has rocketed his way to top spot in the scoring charts, again, with 17 goals. This ability to impose his iron will on all SPL defenders is unmatched. Romarinho has provided a beacon of hope amid continuing dark times at Ittihad, yet this isn’t close to being enough in the contest with the peerless Hamdallah. Sport360

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