"the assist" blog "Brendan donley"

#88 // Kanno → Gomis Al-Hilal 3 – 1 Al-Fateh

Didn’t know they had soccer in Saudi Arabia.

Would’ve never imagined the assists there could go like this:




Trying to find info on this team, this league, these two players—you encounter something a bit off-putting, at the first Google search.

Type in “Bafétimbi Gomis”, the goal scorer, and it comes back with this:



Looks like the villain in a Temple of Doom reboot, ripping the heart out of some poor old referee.

Is that a Swansea logo on the shirt, though?


Digging a bit further, here’s the bio:

From France, played in Ligue 1 for many years, then for Swansea City, Galatasaray, and now for Al-Hilal—sitting three points atop the Saudi Pro League table.




As for the assist man:

Mohamed Kanno—delivering a perfect ball to Gomis.

One of the very best passes of 2019.


There’s not a whole lot of info to be found on the guy, with every tweet about him, Gomis, the pass, the goal, the game—in Arabic.

He’s 24, a tall and lanky right-midfielder from Saudi Arabia, having played only in their domestic league and on the national team.

In the 2018 World Cup, he played just briefly, coming on as a substitute in the second game, a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.


Most likely the only player on this site to have traveled to Mecca:




So it’s a bit of a mystery, this Saudi Arabia soccer thing.

Never had a star in one of the European leagues, or on any world stage.

But the Arab states are pumping money into tourism, modern cityscapes, sports, and the 2022 World Cup coming—at least right now—to Qatar.




They’ll need some talent, a lot of hope, for that soccer-backwards part of the world to make an impression on the rest of us.

But if Mohamed Kanno and the others can, with any kind of regularity, put out play like this…


Then something might just be brewing here.