Moroccan fighter wins World Champion Kickboxing Challenge in Riyadh

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Moroccan kickboxer Sufian Al Zuraidi (right in gloves) receiving cash prize after winning the kickboxing challenge in Riyadh on Friday.(AN photos)
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Saudi karate kids.
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Two kickboxers in action.
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Updated 16 April 2017
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Moroccan fighter wins World Champion Kickboxing Challenge in Riyadh

RIYADH: A Moroccan kickboxer knocked down his opponent and history was created at the first-ever World Champion Kickboxing Challenge held in the Saudi capital Friday night.
Sufian Al Zuraidi from Morocco defeated Nadim Promovitch of Ukraine to win the cash prize and gifts at the prestigious historic kickboxing tournament here.
A capacity crowd at the Central Hall of the Riyadh-based King Saud University (KSU) watched the five-hour long event organized by Fighting Fit company, and promoted and supported by the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the Disabled Children Association (DCA), an NGO which works to rehabilitate and integrate the disabled children into the mainstream of Saudi society.
“I am really happy to win the Riyadh kickboxing challenge. I have been competing for the last few years…but I really feel like I have got so much more to learn.
“It was a bit of fun also fighting in Saudi Arabia, a country which I like most,” said Sufiyan.
Sufiyan, who is in his 30s, has undergone rigorous training for this big event. He works hard especially on his own. He said that when he is home, he runs and does his workouts to stay fit. He credits his success in Riyadh and elsewhere earlier to his “work ethic and support of his family and friends.” Sufiyan won the Riyadh challenge, while Osma Al-Samari and Salman Bin Huthlain were declared platinum fighters.
Saud Al-Sheikh, general manager of Fighting Fit, said, “I am hopeful of the new developments in the Kingdom…such events would bring new entertainment options to the people in the country.”
“We will be meeting the GEA after the event and discuss the agenda; and if everything goes well, we are planning to have kickboxing twice a year,” said Al-Sheikh.
He further said: “We are working to make it a complete entertainment package with stalls and food areas apart from the main championship. Also, we want the families—Saudis and expatriates alike--to come and enjoy the tournament.”
The Friday night event as scheduled, kicked off at 7 p.m. with host Ibrahim Al-Muaidi introducing the “karate kids” displaying their skills and techniques.
It was followed by different sections of kickboxing, first for kids followed by adults. Food trucks and stalls lined the entrance gate for the crowds to enjoy. Admission was free for disabled children and adults. Special arrangements were made for them. Children representing local teams showed some extraordinary moves in the beginning of the event to the delight of the audience.
Martial arts fans enjoyed highlight reel fight techniques in the much talked about championship challenge. Apart from the championships, Saudi Thai boxing champion Saleh Al Zubi showed his moves along with Jeet Kune Do champion Abdul Malek Murtadi.
Also, sumo competitions for kids and interactive sessions with the spectators by host Ibrahim highlighted the event that was a great success.
Gift vouchers were also distributed among the audience, who participated in side shows. The event concluded around 11 p.m. Friday night with the final match of kickboxing between two world champions, which was followed by prize distribution. The GEA in cooperation with private sector is planning to stage several similar events in future.


‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

Updated 20 June 2018
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‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay

  • A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
  • Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance

ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”