Rani Khedira turns down chance to play for Tunisia at the World Cup

Rani Khedira was approached by the Tunisian FA about a possible place in the country's World Cup squad
Updated 07 February 2018
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Rani Khedira turns down chance to play for Tunisia at the World Cup

LONDON: Rani Khedira, brother of Germany star Sami Khedira, has turned down the chance to play for Tunisia at this summer’s World Cup.
The Khedira brothers were born in Stuttgart to a Tunisian father. Both Rani, who is 24, and Sami, 30, played for German junior teams while Juventus midfielder Sami has gone on to become a World Cup winner with 72 appearances for Germany.
Rani Khedira, a defensive midfielder with Augsburg, said he was flattered to be approached but had turned the offer down.
“It filled me with pride that the Tunisian association thought of me,” he said. “I was born and raised in Germany, I only speak German — that was crucial. My game is about communication, instructions and tactics, time is too short, it’s too difficult. I cannot help the team and give my best performance.”
The younger Khedira said he wanted to be fair to other players who have earned the chance to represent Tunisia at a World Cup.
“I don’t want to take a place away from any of them,” he said.
“It has been a long process with those in my sphere of influence, my dad is a proud Tunisian, I carry both countries in my heart and wish them the best, but, in the end, it was the right decision.”
Tunisia face a tough task to get out of their group in Russia, having been drawn with Belgium, England and Panama in Group G this June.


Late heartache for Saudi Arabia in ‘crucial’ Asian Games handball draw with Japan

Updated 20 August 2018
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Late heartache for Saudi Arabia in ‘crucial’ Asian Games handball draw with Japan

  • Saudi Arabia are drawn with Japan, Iraq and reigning champions Qatar
  • With only the top two progressing to the semifinals, the result of the opening match with Japan was vital

JAKARTA: The Saudi Arabian handball team conceded twice in the final 96 seconds against Japan on Monday night to tie a match that coach Muhanna Al-Qamous had billed as crucial to their hopes of progressing to the Asian Games semifinals. Downcast, he said afterwards it felt more like a defeat.
Saudi Arabia, having coasted through the preliminary group stage, were drawn with Japan, Iraq and reigning champions Qatar in the secondary group stage.
With only the top two progressing to the semifinals, the result of the opening match with Japan was vital ahead of Wednesday’s clash with neighbors Qatar.
After an hour of play inside the GOR Popki Cibubur sports complex, it should have ended with Saudi smiles. Instead, with the final whistle blown at 26-26, there were shaking heads and disappointment.
“For us, we lost,” Al-Qamous told Arab News. “We led for the majority of the game, but we made some mistakes and paid the price. This is handball, these things happen and we still have a valuable point, but we are disappointed. We should have won. Our route to the semifinals now requires more work.”
Saudi trailed narrowly until the 18th minute, when left-wing Abdullah Alabbas scored from the 7-meter penalty line to draw his side level at 9-9. From that moment on, it only looked like there would be one winner, with Alabbas giving his side a three-point lead even after Hassan Al-Janabi had been dismissed. They finished the opening period with a 15-11 advantage.
“As I said before, this was the most important match for both sides,” said Al-Qamous. “We played very, very well during the match and were fighting all the time. We deserved to win, but some players got ahead of themselves, took risks in the hope of killing the game off, and it didn’t work. What can we do?”
The second period was equally as balanced, with both sides taking points in succession and the gap never growing greater than five.
Yet with just 15 minutes left and Saudi leading 21-16, Japan rallied, pulling it back quickly with three points in the space of three minutes. Center-back Yuto Agarie, pivotal in his side getting within two of a tie at 21-19, was instrumental again as his side eventually stole a 24-23 lead with just six minutes remaining.
Saudi soon regained their composure and took what appeared to be an unassailable 26-24 lead with a little under two minutes left on the clock. However 11 seconds later, and following a Japanese time-out, Agarie pulled one back before Testsuya Kadoyama converted a fast break opportunity to tie the game with 38 seconds left to play.
“The way we fought and led will stand us in good stead going forward,’ said Al-Qamous, who watched Qatar beat Iraq earlier in the day, although not by as comfortable a margin as many had predicted. They triumphed 26-20 to take control of the group.
“A place in the semifinals is still in our hands,” added Al-Qamous, who will lead Saudi at the World Championships next January in Germany and Denmark. “Iraq only lost to Qatar by six, so we know they are a good team. Maybe they will draw with Japan; that would definitely be the best result for us. But in this life, you must fight your own battles, not rely on others. That is what we will do, starting against Qatar.”


RESULTS
Group 1
Qatar 26-20 Iraq
Saudi Arabia 26-26 Japan

Group 2
Bahrain 29-23 Iran
Hong Kong 15-40 South Korea