Bjoergen, Sundby win cross-country World Cup races

Updated 24 November 2012
0

Bjoergen, Sundby win cross-country World Cup races

GALLIVARE, Sweden: Norway dominated the opening cross-country World Cup meet of the season on Saturday, as Marit Bjoergen earned her 56th individual victory in the women’s 10-kilometer freestyle event and Martin Johnsrud Sundby surprisingly won the men’s 15K race.
Bjoergen led the interval-start race from the first intermediate time and crossed the finish line in 22 minutes, 31.8 seconds for what the 32-year-old triple Olympic champion called “a perfect beginning” to the season.
“I felt like going fast on the skis today and was curious to see whether my body would be with me,” Bjoergen said.
Bjoergen’s teammate Therese Johaug came second, 12.6 seconds behind, and Kikkan Randall of the United States was third, 25.9 seconds back.
In the men’s race, Johnsrud Sundby stunned the field by earning his first World Cup victory in a freestyle event — and just second individual win overall — by finishing in 30 minutes, 37.0 seconds.
“It’s a good feeling I have inside of me right now,” the 28-year-old classical-style specialist said. “There’s a lot of hard work that has started to pay off.” Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan was 8.9 seconds behind in second place, while Sweden’s Marcus Hellner was third.
This was the fifth time Gallivare, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, hosted the season-opening event of the cross-country World Cup.


Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

Updated 22 June 2018
0

Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

  • Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
  • Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
 “I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
 “The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached 
Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
 “This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.” 
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
 “Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.