David targets seventh world title

Updated 17 December 2012
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David targets seventh world title

GRAND CAYMAN: Nicol David, who will be seeking to extend her record of world titles to seven in eight years on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, hopes to show that the pack of would-be rivals is not closing in on her.
The phenomenal Malaysian is one of the longest-lasting front-runners in the whole of sport, but two losses in recent weeks have offered unexpected encouragement to those who believe the hunt may have found a scent.
These rare winners were Raneem El Weleily, the world No. 2 from Egypt who has improved markedly during 2012, and Alison Waters, the world No. 7 from England, who has made a remarkable comeback from injury.
Their successes will have galvanized others to believe the chase can succeed.
However, David also has reasons for feeling encouraged.
Crucial after six-and-a half continuous years as world No. 1 is to ensure she peaks for important events — and she has just done that rather well.
It was at the US Open in Philadelphia in October where she avenged herself on the two who had beaten her.
“It was a big achievement for me to win it that way,” said David, hinting at evolving priorities as she moves into her 30th year.
“Recovery is key. It’s key to preventing injuries, and keeping the body ready for each day.” She has not been helped in her need to prioritize in this way by a section of the media back home which described her losses as “shocking.”
But David insists her motivation burns bright.
“It’s that will to improve myself, as a player, also trying to get to perfection, and there is a long way to go,” she said.
“I just feel old, looking at all those young players, that just keep going!” Weleily is 23, and as the number two seed, is in the other half of the draw of the World Open which starts on Monday.
Waters is 28 and seeded fourth but has landed in the champion’s half. They may have a semi-final meeting though there are unusually tough hurdles for David before that.
Her first round is about the hardest she could have had — against Omneya Abdel Kawy, whom she played in the 2010 final in Sharm El Sheikh.
Since then injury has caused the Egyptian to fall from the top 20, until an excellent comeback in the last two months.
This opener could prove a thermometer of David’s chances, for the champion has occasionally shown signs of vulnerability early on.

It may not get any easier though, for David has a likely third round with Nour El Sherbini, the 17-year-old Egyptian schoolgirl who contested this year’s British Open final with her.
After that El Sherbini was widely touted as the player most likely to succeed David.
Insights as to how soon that might happen may shortly be available.


‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 22 June 2018
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‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.