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.


Last gasp Shaqiri goal seals Swiss win over Serbia

Updated 22 June 2018
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Last gasp Shaqiri goal seals Swiss win over Serbia

  • The win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough Group E that contains five-times winners Brazil but they were pushed all the way by the Serbs.
  • It was a sweet victory for Shaqiri and fellow Swiss goalscorer Granit Xhaka, who along with team-mate Valon Belrami were booed relentlessly by Serbia’s fans throughout. Shaqiri, Xhaka and Belrami trace their roots to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia.

KALININGRAD: A last-minute Xherdan Shaqiri breakaway goal handed Switzerland victory Friday as they came from behind to defeat Serbia 2-1 in Kaliningrad.
The win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough Group E that contains five-times winners Brazil but they were pushed all the way by the Serbs.
It was a sweet victory for Shaqiri and fellow Swiss goalscorer Granit Xhaka, who along with team-mate Valon Belrami were booed relentlessly by Serbia’s fans throughout.
Shaqiri, Xhaka and Belrami trace their roots to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, a fact which had stoked tensions before the match.
Both Shaqiri and Xhaka pointedly celebrated their goals by making an eagle gesture with their hands, viewed as a symbol of defiance.
Serbia raced out of the blocks, funnelling possession to Southampton winger Dusan Tadic on the right flank, who troubled Switzerland with his crossing all match.
An Aleksandar Mitrovic header forced a smart save from Swiss keeper Yann Sommer after four minutes.
Seconds later, Tadic took the ball past left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, cut back on his favored left foot and delivered a majestic cross that Mitrovic duly buried with his head.
In a frenetic first half, Switzerland had more of the ball but were sloppy with it, giving away possession in advanced positions and sending Serbia on the break.
Lazio’s highly rated Sergej Milinkovic-Savic fizzed a right-footed shot narrowly wide of Sommer’s right post on 15 minutes, and Mitrovic almost scored with a spectacular bicycle kick that went the same way minutes later.
Switzerland, who came to Russia ranked ahead of the likes of France and Spain, felt their way into the game as the first-half progressed.
On the half-hour mark, Steven Zuber cleverly teed up Blerim Dzemaili but the Hoffenheim man got his feet in a muddle and Vladimir Stojkovic was able to parry away.
But it was Serbia, who beat Costa Rica 1-0 in their Group E opener, who nearly went in two up.
Nemanja Matic missed a glorious chance to double the lead just before the break when Tadic’s in-swinging corner found him unmarked at the back post but the Manchester United midfielder couldn’t sort his feet out.
Matic said during the build-up the team were expecting a “hellish” encounter with the Swiss, who in their game with Brazil fouled star forward Neymar 10 times alone.
Switzerland grew in stature after the break and were rewarded with a spectacular equalizer courtesy of Xhaka’s 52nd-minute piledriver.
They had the better chances in the second period, with Shaqiri’s curling effort from the edge of the area grazing Stojkovic’s bar on the hour mark.
Coach Vladimir Petkovic brought on attackers Breel Embolo and Mario Gavranovic in a bid to force a winner, and Gavranovic forced a smart save from Stojkovic from a close range effort with 10 minutes remaining.
But it was Stoke City winger Shaqiri who struck the decisive blow, breaking through Serbia’s offside trap to slot home calmly as the 90 minutes wound down.
Serbia will now need something from their final Group E match against Brazil, while a draw against Costa Rica would see Switzerland through.