Roberto Mancini named as Saudi Arabia’s national team coach

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Roberto Mancini was announced as the new head coach of Saudi Arabia’s men’s team on Sunday, just two weeks after resigning as manager of his native Italy.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mancini wrote that he was “honored to be selected for such a prestigious role” and that he will “proudly continue to bring our Italian culture to the world.”

He continued to say he has “accepted to embrace such an exciting new project, grounded on a shared vision and purpose to grow the national football sector as well as the young talents and the future generations.”

Both Mancini and the official Saudi national team shared a video on X showing the 58-year-old wearing a green tie and drinking a coffee. At the end of the video, Mancini says, “I made history in Europe. Now it is time to make history with Saudi.”

Mancini was head coach of Italy for five years, winning the men’s European Championship with the team in 2021. However, Italy failed to qualify for the Qatar World Cup in 2022 under his stewardship and currently sits third in its group for the 2024 edition of the European championship, behind England and Ukraine.

At club level, Mancini has managed Inter Milan and Manchester City most notably, as well as a stint with Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia. He won Manchester City’s first English Premier League title in 2012 in dramatic fashion.

Saudi Arabia’s men’s national team sprung one of the surprises of the 2022 World Cup, defeating eventual champion Argentina 2-1 in the group stage.

The country has been investing heavily in sport in recent times, with teams in the Saudi Pro League – the professional men’s league in the country – signing a slew of global stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and reigning Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema.

Saudi Arabia’s next fixtures are against Costa Rica and South Korea in September. Both games are being held at St. James’ Park, the home ground of Newcastle United. Newcastle is majority owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Gulf state, which is chaired by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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