Newcastle United in Saudi Arabia diary: Eddie Howe's not all business, Garang Kuol shows his colours

There was a crowd outside the perimeter of Newcastle International Airport yesterday morning.

A number of planespotters were waiting for the arrival and departure of the aircraft taking Newcastle United’s players to Saudi Arabia for a mid-season training camp in Riyadh.

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It’s the club’s second visit to the country, which has ambitions to host the 2030 World Cup.

The 787 Dreamliner belonged to national carrier Saudia, now a “partner” of the club, which is 80%-owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund following last year’s takeover.

Eddie Howe and his players, accompanied by co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi, arrived in Riyadh last night after a comfortable flight. The players had been especially comfortable on the journey to the Saudi capital, having been given the flat-bed seats in business class.

Howe and his staff didn’t pull rank, and the club tweeted a video of the club’s head coach in economy class with chief executive officer Darren Eales and his coaching team. Sporting director Dan Ashworth is also on the trip along with loan coordinator Shola Ameobi, who will be keeping a close eye on the young players taken on the trip by Howe.

As ever with Howe, the players come first.

Newcastle Untied head coach Eddie Howe.

Showing his colours

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Garang Kuol was showing his colours when he arrived back home after Australia’s World Cup campaign was ended by Argentina.

Kuol agreed to join Newcastle United earlier this season after a breakthrough season in the A-League which saw him called up by his country.

The Central Coast Mariners forward – who made two appearances off the bench in Qatar – was wearing the club’s away strip when he returned to Sydney with his team-mates.

Newcastle United in Riyadh.
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Unfortunately, it will be some time before Newcastle fans get to see the 18-year-old in a shirt for a game.

Kuol – who almost equalised against Argentina after coming off the bench – will have to be loaned out this season in order to get the Governing Body Experience points he needs to play in England.

However, if Kuol continues his progress, he could be a welcome extra attacking option for Howe in the coming seasons.