Awesome Omar is class, but is not in 2017 top 3

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While his ability is not in doubt, it’s fair to say Omar Abdulrahman didn’t perform when it came to the crunch clashes this year. (AFP)
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Updated 20 November 2017
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Awesome Omar is class, but is not in 2017 top 3

LONDON: Football divides opinions as smoothly as an Omar Abdulrahman pass splits defenses. Player of the Year/Season awards are especially adept at provoking debate, which is one reason why they are so much fun.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) prize is a prime example. Abdulrahman, the United Arab Emirates playmaker, is the current holder of the title. A year on, he is back on the three-man shortlist for the 2017 award along with Omar Khribin of Al-Hilal and Syria (pictured right), and Wu Lei of China and Shanghai SIPG.
He should not be there on the back of his performances this year.
Abdulrahman can lay claim to being the most talented player in the whole continent. There is no need to go over the reasons why again. More has been written about the Al-Ain man than any other Asian player in history who has never played outside Asia.
Just because he is the most talented — or is widely regarded as such — does not mean that he is always the top dog in any given year. The Beatles are regarded by many as the best band in history but still burped out Yellow Submarine and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. George Lucas made Star Wars but was also responsible for The Phantom Menace.
Abdulrahman has never reached such lows, but 2017 has not been a vintage year for the player. It could have, should have, been his best ever, but in the end it was merely good rather than great.
His club form has been somewhere in between. Al-Ain had a relatively disappointing 2016-17 season by their own high standards, finishing fourth.
In the 2017 AFC Champions League, the 26-year-old was one of the standouts playing a major part of the drive to the last eight. That is where the run ended however. For a club like Al-Ain, the last eight is the minimum of continental targets. Losing 3-0 to Al-Hilal was a major disappointment, and in the second leg the Riyadh-born creator was second best to the Saudi midfielders on display. 
The path to Bangkok,  where this year’s award will be presented at the end of November, runs alongside the road to Russia. The man known as “Amoory” was not at his best this year during qualification for the World Cup, even if something similar could be said for the UAE team in general. The Whites started the third and crucial round very well with a 2-1 win over Japan in Saitama in September 2016. By the end of last year, UAE were sitting in a decent position with nine points from their first five games.
The next five, all played this year, brought just four points. In March, there were two games that were always going to give the team a major shove toward Moscow or ensure that dreams of a busy summer were all but dashed.
In the space of five days, UAE hosted Japan and then traveled to Australia. If those two games had ended in victory, then the nation and its star would be looking forward to a first appearance on the global stage since 1990. Even four points would have made things very interesting.
It was always a big ask against two of Asia’s best teams but it is exactly then, when the pressure is on, that the stars have to step forward.
Abdulrahman didn’t. In both games he had little impact. There had been plenty of hype in the media in both Tokyo and Sydney about the need to stop the reigning Asian Player of the Year. And stopped he was, just like he was in the 2016 Asian Champions League when Al-Ain lost to Jeonbuk Motors in the final.
Such big games don’t only mean the difference between going to a World Cup and staying home, or lifting a trophy and throwing a loser’s medal into the bin, they also forge reputations.
This year Abdulrahman has been found wanting when his skills have really been needed. In terms of overall talent, he may still be Asia’s No. 1, but in terms of 2017 performances, he should not have made the top three.


Women’s Bowling Championship 2018 wraps up in Jeddah

Dr. Razan Baker, 3rd left standing, with participants at the Third Women’s Bowling Championship 2018, in Jeddah on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 21 October 2018
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Women’s Bowling Championship 2018 wraps up in Jeddah

  • Sixty-three competitors, many of them amateurs, participated in the competition which consisted of four rounds

JEDDAH: The first Women Bowling Championship in Saudi Arabia took place in October in three cities, Riyadh, Alkhobar, and Jeddah, where it finished at Ice Land Bowling Center on Saturday. Gada Nemer, 42, from Riyadh, who came first in the competition, told Arab News: “I participated in all three tournaments, in Riyadh, Alkhobar, and today in Jeddah. I won first place in Alkhobar too. “I am not a professional bowler, but I used to bowl with my kids. Two of them bowl on the national team. I am very glad to have the chance to participate in these tournaments, and look forward to future ones.”
It was the first tournament of its kind in the Kingdom, as the country is rapidly developing sporting facilities for women and increasing women’s involvement in sports by making reforms that have included allowing physical education for schoolgirls and opening female-only gyms. Sixty-three competitors, many of them amateurs, participated in the competition which consisted of four rounds. All competitors took part in the first round, 33 made it into the second round and 16 qualified for the third.
Participants were between 11 and 56 years of age. Nemer received a cash prize of SR5,000 ($1,335) and those in second and third place received SR3,000 and SR2,000 respectively.
The last round had the best three competitors competing for first place with Nemer winning first prize, followed by Meshael Alabdulwahed (second) and Wissam Al-Harbi (third).

Growing interest
Bowling is still a growing sport for women in Saudi Arabia. The first female bowling team officially registered in the Saudi Bowling Federation, and the Eastern Province bowling team is only seven months old, according to Dr. Razan Baker, member of the board of directors and head of media and women’s participation at the federation.
Baker told Arab News: “We were surprised by the excitement of the participants. The numbers were beyond our expectations.
“Many participants would like to become professional bowlers. With this high turnout I expect bowling centers to start supporting new female bowling teams.”
Abeer Abdulmalik, from Al-Qassim, participated in the tournament. Although she is new to bowling, she made it to the third round.
“I never bowled before in my life, and I did not prepare myself for the game. I am surprised and happy with what I scored, although I was hoping to be in the final round,” she told Arab News. “I would like to take part in future championships.”
Aminah Khan, who participated in the tournament with her two sisters, told Arab News: “I came here for fun, and to try my luck before I go to my midterm exam.”
Khan did not make it to the second round, but said she would start working to improve her skills and take bowling more seriously as a sport.
The championship was organized by the Saudi Bowling Federation, the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, and General Sports Authority, and in partnership with Arab News as the exclusive English media partner for the event.