Salem Al-Dawsari is Saudi Arabia’s top player, no doubt about it. After all, he has scored 17 goals in 65 games, more than any other active player. As colleague Alex Campean wrote, there’s also Fahad Al-Muwallad, who has scored 17 goals in 70 games.
Al-Dawsari and Al-Muwallad are midfielders, meaning the Green Falcons need a certified scorer to help carry the load. Fortunately for them, there’s Firas Al-Buraikan, a 22-year-old who’s 5 feet 9 inches tall. That could be enough, but there’s more to say. He could even be considered a betting online dark horse to win the 2022 World Cup Golden Boot.
Al-Buraikan has only played for two teams. From 2017 to 2021, he played for Al-Nassr, with which he won the Saudi Professional League (2018-19) and the Saudi Super Cup (2019, 2020). Overall, he appeared in 28 games and scored four goals.
Yes, his production didn’t meet expectations, but he learned a lot from world-class strikers such as Abderrazak Hamdallah, who’s nicknamed The Executioner, and Ahmed Musa, who now plays in the Turkish Super Lig and the Nigeria national team.
In 2021, Al-Buraikan was transferred to Al-Fateh. Since then, he has been a much more productive striker, scoring a goal every 2.4 games. Overall, he has scored 11 goals in 27 games in all competitions.
Besides being good in the air, which is a great advantage in terms of aerial play, Al-Buraikan is a speedy, skilled striker. Throughout his career in the Saudi Professional League, he has also had four assists, meaning he’s not a selfish player.
With the Green Falcons
Before being called up to the senior team, Al-Buraikan was a star with the U-20 squad. He scored 14 goals in 20 games, including one in the 2018 AFC Championship, which Saudi Arabia ended up winning.
Later, he played for the U-23 team, with which he scored three goals in nine games. Two of those goals helped the U-23 Green Falcons win the 2022 edition of the AFC Cup.
That was more than enough for him to be called up to the senior team. He made his debut in 2019 and it didn’t take him long to score his first goal. It was in November, against Kuwait in the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup.
Overall, he has scored six goals, including three on the road to Qatar 2022. He scored against Japan, China and Oman in the third round of the qualifiers. His goals allowed the Green Falcons to defeat Japan and Oman in order to finish atop Group B. Japan was the top soccer pick to win first place, but the Blue Samurais finished one point behind the Green Falcons.
Saudi Arabia in the 2022 World Cup
It’s hard to imagine a soccer betting enthusiast wagering on Saudi Arabia to defeat Argentina. La Albiceleste dominates the odds to win Group C at -250. The Green Falcons will also face Poland and Mexico. Their chances against those two are better, especially against Mexico.
Al-Buraikan is expected to start in all three Group Stage matches. If he manages to score against Argentina, even if they lose 5-1, his chances to win the Golden Boot would increase. Hey, Oleg Salenko won the award in 1994 after scoring five goals in a single match. He won the Golden Boot even though Russia was eliminated in the Group Stage. In other words, anything can happen.
Back to the Las Vegas odds regarding Group C, Saudi Arabia is offering a +700 price to qualify for the Round of 16.