Cricket fans all agog over Afridi visit in Riyadh

Updated 25 January 2013
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Cricket fans all agog over Afridi visit in Riyadh

Popular Pakistani cricket star Shahid Afridi, fondly called as ‘Boom boom Afridi’ for his aggressive batting style, was received in Riyadh by cricket fans with unprecedented standing ovation that lasted for several minutes.
The cricket star was in Riyadh on Tuesday, in a talent hunt program to identify young cricketers. The event was organized by the Royal Academy of Cricket (RAC),which is a non-political, non-profit group of dedicated individuals with a mission to promoting cricket in Saudi Arabia.
Afridi emerged to international scene with a big ‘boom’ as he scored the fastest ODI century (off 37 balls) in his first international innings (second ODI match) against Sri Lanka in 1996. Along with his aggressive batting, he has established himself as one of the most effective leg-spinners in one-day cricket. He has so far amassed more than 6,500 runs and captured 300 plus wickets in one-day internationals.
Recently RAC launched a talent hunt program to spot talented young cricketers. RAC would be providing them with adequate coaching in order to groom, train and make them ready for competitive matches in Saudi Arabia and abroad.
Afridi spent a day with these budding cricketers to teach them the required skills.
Speaking to about a hundred cricket fans gathered at the AlKhozama stadium, Afridi congratulated Saudi Cricket Council (SCC) for promoting cricket in the Kingdom. He also thanked the sponsors who helped the organizers to make their venture a success.
He pointed out that there were cricketing skills here among the youth. However, due to the absence of any infrastructure facilities here, their hidden talents were not harnessed.
He appreciated the efforts of both SCC and RAC for taking up this mission of talent hunt. “This honest endeavor of yours would bear fruit,” he added. He also made an earnest appeal to all the cricket associations in the Kingdom to shed politics and work as one entity – for the cause of cricket.
“The talented cricketers should be given an opportunity on merits,” he added.
He explained that that he has a mission to build a decent hospital for the poor in his native place in memory of this father.
“I plan to accomplish this project with my own resources. However, I would welcome and appreciate if individuals or organizations would help in completing this mission,” he said.
The program began with the recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an by Salman Siddiqui, operations manager of RAC, who also anchored some segments of this event.
Professor Dr. Mujahid welcomed chief guest Afridi to the city of Riyadh. He said it was a historic and momentous occasion that Afridi met his fans in Riyadh.
Shields of appreciation were awarded to the following: Qadir Mirza, Faiz Al-Najdi, Nadeem Nadvi, Abdul Karim Khan, Mamoor Elahi, Patterson, Jaffer, Tariq Javed, and Ms. Asma Tariq, Javed Shamim, Javed Iqbal, Shahzad Alam Siddiqui, Dr. Zafar Elahi, Jawad Al-Khalifa, Javed Munawwar, Rana Abdul Rauf, Prof. Sultan Ayub Meo, Prof. Ali Al-Tuwaijri, Tariq Mehboob Mir, Aalee Al-Otaibi, Dr. Mansour Moemon and Ms. Neha Azyz.
Mujahid said the awards were given to those people who rendered services to the community in the field of cricket.


Iran announces World Cup squad without Belgium-based striker

Updated 1 min 54 sec ago
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Iran announces World Cup squad without Belgium-based striker

  • The ommition of striker Kaveh Rezaei is the biggest shock in the Iranian squad's selection for the World Cup
  • The 26-year-old has just completed a blistering season for Belgium’s Charleroi, scoring 16 goals in 39 games

TEHRAN: Iran announced its 24-man squad for the 2018 World Cup late Sunday, surprisingly omitting striker Kaveh Rezaei, but with plenty of expectation after an unbeaten run through qualifying.
The biggest shock was the decision not to take Rezaei, the 26-year-old coming off a blistering season for Belgium’s Charleroi, scoring 16 goals in 39 games.
But Iran has strong choices up front, including Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who became the first Iranian to top the scoring table of a major European league with 21 goals for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.
Also making the squad are Masoud Shojaei, 33, and Ehsan Hajji Safi, 28, who were supposed to have been banned for life last summer after playing an Israeli team for their Greek club Panionios.
Iran does not recognize the Jewish state and bars its athletes from appearing against Israelis.
But there was uproar from fans and confusion reigned over the issue, with Shojaei returning to the national squad in March and Hajji Safi never actually banned.
Iran is unable to openly discuss the ban on facing Israelis because it breaches international sporting regulations.
Iran’s national team has been coached for the past seven years by Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz, a former enforcer for Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and one-season boss at Real Madrid.
Queiroz has led Iran to its first back-to-back appearances at the World Cup, but will be hoping to improve on its winless appearance in Brazil.
Iran, nicknamed “Team Melli,” had an unbeaten run in qualifiers, becoming the first to book their place from the Asian Football Confederation.
But they face a tough group in the World Cup, with Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
The squad announced this weekend could still change, in case of injury, up to a final deadline on June 4.

Iran World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo/POR)
Defenders: Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa), Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny/RUS), Mohammad Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad/QAT), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende/BEL), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)
Midfielders: Ehsan Hajji Safi (Olympiacos/GRE), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos/GRE), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens/GRE), Mahdi Torabi (Saipa), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm/RUS)
Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar/NED), Ashkan Dejageh (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa/QAT), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen/NED), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds/SWE), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan/RUS), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis)