Saudi Arabia goalkeepers begin battle to land World Cup spot

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The Saudi Arabia goalkeepers are being put through their paces during the training camp in Riyadh. (all pictures @saudiFF)
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SAFF President Adel Ezzat has been at the training camp in Riyadh. (@saudiFF)
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Updated 24 January 2018
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Saudi Arabia goalkeepers begin battle to land World Cup spot

LONDON: Yasser Al-Mosailem is relishing the duel for the Green Falcons’ No. 1 jersey after he was recalled to the national team for Juan Antonio Pizzi’s first get-together.

Al-Mosailem was the first choice for most of the World Cup qualifying campaign under Bert van Marwijk, playing seven times but he found himself out of the squad completely when Edgardo Bauza took charge, missing the ill-fated camp in Portugal.

But the Al-Ahli stopper was named in Pizzi’s first squad as one of four goalkeepers and he is currently in Riyadh with the rest of the Green Falcons’ squad for the first of five training camps under Pizzi. Abdullah Al-Mayouf, Waleed Abdullah and Mohamed Al-Owais are the other goalkeepers in the squad and they will all be looking to impress Pizzi as only three will go to the World Cup in Russia.

“This is competition between teammates and of course everyone wants to play but in the end this decision is made by the team’s coach,” said Al-Mosailem in an interview published on the Saudi Football Federation’s (SAFF) Twitter account. “The competition between keepers is honest, everyone hopes to play, the goal when God agrees to it, you must be an honest competitor with your colleagues on the pitch, the final decision, only one will play and will be decided by the coach of the team. Of course most of the keepers are at a close level, as you see Abdullah Mayouf who is a regular at Al-Hilal ahead of professional Ali Al-Habsi. At Al-Ahly the competition between Mohammed Alowais and I is very strong, for the benefit of the national team and at Al-Ittihad Assaf and Fawaz Al-Qarni, the same level between them and the youngster Walid at Al-Nassr and the levels of the goalkeepers will spur them on and give strength to the Saudi national keepers.”


The SAFF have harnessed the help of Oliver Kahn, the German great, to aid the development of their goalkeepers. Kahn, who retired from playing in 2008, runs his own company, GoalPlay, with business partner Moritz Mattes and signed a partnership agreement with the (SAFF) to help improve the level of goalkeeping in the Kingdom with one eye on next summer’s Fifa World Cup. The goalkeepers, Al-Mosailem says, traveled to Germany recently for a training camp.

“The aim was clear: to find out the different players’ capabilities and how to develop some of their skills, such as response/reaction, speed and physical performance,” he said. “This was excellent but I wish that we can have this here in Saudi as well, at least twice a week for example, and then after that they can return to their club and play the tournaments. These tournaments are very important and if we can bring the idea to Saudi Arabia then we will be able to better train Saudi goalkeepers.”

Al-Mosailem, 33, wants clubs in the Saudi Professional League to resist the urge to bring in a goalkeeper from overseas, like Al-Hilal have done with Ali Al-Habsi, and focus instead on developing their own.

“I said it previously, improving Saudi goalkeepers is better than to bring a foreign goalkeeper,” Al-Mosailem said. “Bringing a top coaching staff and put forward to the clubs, they will be good coaches that follow a program, which is almost the same as other clubs, depending on the differing tactics of a coach, and from it, the national team would benefit. Don’t bring a foreign goalkeeper. I see the same goalkeepers at the same level and make the same mistakes here or outside the country. To improve your goalkeepers, you must bring a top coaching staff especially at youth level.”


Morgan sets new sixes record as England run riot against Afghanistan

Updated 47 min 13 sec ago
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Morgan sets new sixes record as England run riot against Afghanistan

  • Morgan hit 17 sixes in his career-best 148, with England’s total of 25 sixes also a new world record
  • Morgan’s tally surpassed the record of 16 sixes in an ODI innings previously shared by India’s Rohit Sharma, South Africa’s AB de Villiers and West Indies’ Chris Gayle

MANCHESTER: England captain Eoin Morgan set a new world record for most sixes in a one-day international innings as the World Cup hosts piled up 397 for six against Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Morgan hit 17 sixes in his career-best 148, with England’s total of 25 sixes also a new world record.
Morgan, dropped on 28, dominated a third-wicket stand of 189 with Joe Root (82), whose contribution to their partnership was a mere 33.
Afghanistan star leg-spinner Rashid Khan set an unwanted record with 0-110 in nine overs — the most expensive return at a World Cup and second costliest in all ODI cricket.
Morgan’s tally surpassed the record of 16 sixes in an ODI innings previously shared by India’s Rohit Sharma, South Africa’s AB de Villiers and West Indies’ Chris Gayle.
But one ball after launching Gulbadin Naib for the record-breaking six, Morgan holed out off the Afghanistan captain to end a 71-ball innings that also featured four fours.
His innings, which featured 118 runs in boundaries, was all the more impressive as Morgan had been doubtful for this match with a back spasm suffered in England’s eight-wicket win over the West Indies, in which he could not bat.
Jonny Bairstow (90) got England off to a solid start after Morgan won the toss, with the home side accelerating after James Vince fell for 26 when he mishooked paceman Dawlat Zadran to short fine-leg.
Rank outsiders Afghanistan, yet to win a game at this tournament, did not help themselves with some woeful outfielding.
Bairstow was untroubled until, and in sight of his eighth ODI century, he chipped a return catch to Naib.
A visibly annoyed Bairstow walked off having been in command during a 99-ball innings that featured eight fours and three sixes.
Morgan settled in quickly, hitting Naib for two sixes including a fine hit over long-on.
But the left-hander should have been out when he skied Rashid Khan only for Dawlat Zadran at deep midwicket to make such a mess of the catch that the ball bounced out of his hands and over the rope for four.
It was a costly error, with Morgan immediately hitting a soaring six. He cleared the boundary again in a 36th over that cost 18 runs.
Morgan then went to fifty with his fifth six in 36 balls faced when he pulled off-spinner Mohammad Nabi high into an 8,000-capacity temporary stand.
Root was denied a second successive hundred and third of the tournament when he holed out off Gulbadin, whose three for 68 was not a bad return in the circumstances.
But the sixes kept coming, with Moeen Ali setting a new team record when he launched the penultimate delivery of the innings, from Dawlat, over long-on.