Mohammed Nasser Al Khathlan is the first Saudi Arabian to ever reach a FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final, after comfortably winning the Middle East Live Qualifier Event held in Dubai. The 21-year-old cruised to victory as he beat fellow Saudi Arabian Mohammed Mazen Kheds 5-1 in the final match.
The Dubai event, held at the Virgin Megastore in the Mall of Emirates, was the first FIWC Live Qualifier to be staged in the Middle East. Eight finalists from the region came face to face, each having successfully carved a path through the pre-qualifier events that were held in Dubai, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
A virtuoso virtual performance
Mohammed Al Khathlan's side of choice was Manchester United, a team whose performance would have made even Alex Ferguson proud. Mohammed's virtual Red Devils played with as much confidence and quality as that currently oozed by England's Premier League leaders. Having arrived in Dubai for the regional finals after winning the pre-qualifier event in his home town of Riyadh, Mohammed out passed, tackled, dribbled and scored the other finalists.
Young challenger quickly neutralised
They may have shared a first name, but there was no sharing of possession or goals, when the two Saudi Arabian finalists squared off. Mohammed Mazen Kheds, 16, had played inspiringly to reach the final but unfortunately his older countryman seemed to have saved the best for last. Al Khathlan displayed his best form of the qualifiers in the final match, and cruised into the half with a 3-0 lead.
Although the younger Mohammed managed to pull a goal back in the second half, his elder rival simply shifted into a higher gear and speedily netted another two goals, winning the final 5-1.
Before the final match, Mohammed Al Khathlan was very confident that he would win the Middle East Qualifier, and even went so as far as to predict that he will taste more success at May's Grand Final: "I will win today and I will win in Barcelona as I am a very professional player."
There is no doubt that he has the talent; after all, the eager gamer has earned a prestigious spot at the Grand Final, after playing EA SPORTS™ FIFA09 on PlayStation®3 for just one month. If he continues to improve over the next two months, he may just surprise everyone at Barcelona's Grand Final on 2 May.
13 Live Qualifiers in 8 weeks
FIWC09 is now entering the 'business end' of qualification with the remaining 13 Live events taking place over the next eight weeks. The next event is Portugal's Live Qualifier, which takes place in Lisbon on Valentine's Day.
For all the latest FIWC09 news and event details visit www.FIFA.com/FIWC.