Saudi Arabian driver Yasir Seaidan looking for podium finish in Dubai rally race

Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Seaidan is competing this weekend in the Dubai International Baja. (Screenshot)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Saudi Arabian driver Yasir Seaidan looking for podium finish in Dubai rally race

DUBAI: Be it brakes, bones or personal bests, cross-country rally drivers are accustomed to breaking things. Saudi Arabia’s Yasir Seaidan, however, is out to break something else this weekend at the Dubai International Baja.
Seaidan, who is competing in his third season of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies, is intent on breaking the cycle and escaping from the fifth-place ranking that has come to be his own.
Fifth overall in last year’s championship, the 40-year-old finished fifth again in the opening round of the season in last month’s Baja Russia — Northern Forest. When he lined up on Thursday for the opening ceremony at Dubai Autodrome in his Toyota Hilux Overdrive — seeded fifth, naturally — he will be thinking only of the podium.
“Dubai is the only Baja with dunes and I’m good on dunes,” said Seaidan ahead of the three-day event that runs through the unforgiving Al Qudra desert. “The weather is perfect there at this time of year so I can be quite confident. Last year, I competed in the T2 category and finished third, so although I’m competing in T1 this year, I hope to do that again.”
His highest finish in the T1 category is, somewhat predictably, fifth. “I really hope I’m not stuck in this position,” he added.
According to organizers, the event will feature 88 drivers from 19 countries, competing in a range of vehicles, from T1 and T2 to quads, bikes and buggies. Seaidan, who started racing quads in 2002 before switching to cars in 2012, balances his racing career with senior roles in real estate, tourism and a motorsport company.
“To be racing all the year round for sure makes me need to work harder when I go back to the office,” he said. “But I’m trying to do my best to balance racing and working. My colleagues take some interest, but most believe that racing is too hard for them.”
The same cannot be said for Saudi Arabia’s newly-empowered female population. Soon to be permitted to drive unaccompanied, Saudi women are starting to show an interest in racing too. Seaidan says he will not be surprised if one day in the not-too-distant future, he is preparing to race in a field that includes women from his native country.
“Some girls in Saudi Arabia have already started asking how they can be a rally driver, so I believe in a few years you will see Saudi girls racing, yes,” he said.
It would be another milestone in what is proving a burgeoning motorsports industry in the Kingdom. Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, a 34-year-old racing driver and Red Bull athlete, has been given the role of vice-chairman of the General Authority of Sport and last month Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium hosted the annual two-day Race of Champions. Although it was incorrectly billed as the country’s first international motorsport event, it was the first time in the event’s 30-year history that it had taken place in the Middle East.
“Everybody in Saudi Arabia loves motorsport, so the Race of Champions is just one more thing we can be proud of,” said Seaidan. “We currently have three rallies and the Saudi Motorsports Federation plans to increase this to five by next year. In 2008, the country hosted the Hail Baja (the opening round of that season’s FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas), so I’m sure with the way things are going the federation will be planning to bring it back to the calendar soon.”
Saudi also has the Reem International Circuit on the outskirts of Riyadh.
“I think the future is bright for Saudi motorsport,” said Seaidan, “But first I need to do a good job in Dubai and get that podium.”

60 SECONDS WITH SEAIDAN
Favorite Driver: Jean-Louis Schlesser, French racing driver who has competed in touring cars, sports cars, cross-country and Formula One. Although he only competed in one F1 grand prix, he is renowned as the driver who stopped McLaren completing a perfect season in 1988. While being lapped by Ayrton Senna, Schlesser locked his brakes, crashed into the Brazilian and ended the race leader’s afternoon.
Jean-Louis Schlesser


Favorite Race: Rallye Oilibya du Maroc. One of the most visually stunning races on the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country calendar, the Moroccan event is often cited as Africa’s greatest rally race. First held in 2000, the event is set amid the Atlas Mountains and has been won a record four times by Schlesser. Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah equalled the Frenchman’s record last year and is expected to return this October to try and claim it for himself.
Rallye Oilibya du Maroc. (AFP)

 


AS IT HAPPENED: Egypt 1-3 Russia - Mohamed Salah consolation as hosts breeze past the Pharaohs

Updated 19 June 2018
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AS IT HAPPENED: Egypt 1-3 Russia - Mohamed Salah consolation as hosts breeze past the Pharaohs

FULL TIME — RUSSIA 3-1 EGYPT: As much as the Egyptains put up a good fight, they were ultimately beaten by the better, more clinical side. There will, of course, be many a 'what if' concerning Salah — what if he'd played against Uruguay? What if he had been at 100 percent fitness? — but while those answers will never been known, what is not in doubt is that the scoreline in Saint Petersburg did not lie. 

10.40PM: Egypt are seeing a lot of the ball in this final period of the match but, as with the previous 160 minutes of the tournament, they are unable to fashion even a decent half-chance. There lack of cutting edge has cost them so far in Russia. 

ANOTHER SALAH STAT

10.32PM: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR EGYPT? Kutepov looks like he's wrestled Mohsen to the ground but the referee waves play on. It is not referred by the VAR committee and time is running out for Egypt. 

SHARPSHOOTER: Salah celebrates after slotting home his penalty. 

10.29PM — GOAL FOR EGYPT 3-1 to RUSSIA: Salah may not have been at his best so far but he makes no mistake from teh spot smashing the ball emphatically into the back of the net. Can that act as a springboard for an unlikley comeback?

10. 28PM — PENALTY FOR EGYPT: Salah is brought down on the edge of the area. The referee initially calls for a free-kick but that is changed to a penalty after a VAR review. Can he score to inject hope into Egypt players and fans?

FORLORN FANS: Egypt fans trying to enjoy what is unfldoing in front of them in Saint Petersburg. 

 

10.17PM - GOAL FOR RUSSIA 3-0: A disastrous two minutes for Salah and Co. Dzyuba finds room on the edge of the area before hitting a great curled shot to give El Shenawy no chance. This is gae over for Egypt and they are on the verge of going out of the tournament. 

10.15PM - GOAL FOR RUSSIA 2-0: What a tournament this man is having, Cheryshev scores his third goal of the World Cup after great work by Fernandes, a former Brazil international, down the right , a well worked goal. And now Egypt's hopes of making the knockout stages are well and truly on the brink. 

HAPPY HOSTS: The Russians celebrate their fortunate opener. 

10.05PM — SALAH SHOT: The Egyptian star finds room on the edge of the area, enough room to shoot with his trusty left boot. It's well blocked and goes for a corner.

10PM — GOAL FOR RUSSIA 1-0:  A nightmare start to the second-half for Egypt. Golovin crossed the ball in but for some reason rather than catch it El Shenawy punched the ball straight into the path of  Zobnin. A terrible shot hits Fathy who can only watch as  the ball squirmed past his past his own keeper from about 12 yards out. Bad luck but partly of Egypt's own making. They have it all to do now. 

FRIENDLY FANS: This is a great photo of Mexican and Colombian supporters lefting an Egypt fan so he can watch his heroes. 

 

 

HALF-TIME: It has been a close first 45 minutes in Saint Petersburg, neither side really showing much quality. Both coaches will be happy with the scoreline, the key thing for Egypt was to keep it tight and not go behind. The task for the second-half is to build on that, but with Salah only showing glimpses of his class it will be difficult. It is clear the Liverpool man is protect his injured shoulder and not making the dashing runs past defenders that we all got used to over the past 10 months. 

9.42PM — STAT ATTACK: It's been a tight first-half so far as these stats show.

 

9.37PM — SALAH SHOT: It has taken time but Salah gets his first shot in. On the edge of the penalty area he fakes to go on to his right before improvising and hitting shot with his left that only narrowly goes wide. Promising signs for Egypt here. 

9.35PM: Elneney illustrates that the Pharaohs are far from a one-man team as he floats a wonderful pass into the dangerzone. Mohsen again gets a head to it, but you cannot help buyt feel the big man has to do better as the ball drops easily into Akinfeev's hands. 

9.33PM: A good period for Egypt, they force the first corner, which they then subsequently wasted by not beating the first defender (criminal!). But a minute later they work a good opportunity for Mohsen at the far post, only good Russian defending prevented the striker from getting a better header in. 

9.30PM — ONE TO WATCH: Golovin is once agains having a good game in the Russia midfield. Elneny and Co need to quieten him down if they are to prevent the hosts creating good chance after good chance. 

9.24PM: Egypt will be happy with the first 25 minutes, having weathered the early Russian onslaught they have come back into the match and, as with the Uruguay match, showing composure on the ball. Can they go up a level from here? 

9.20PM: It's been a bit of a bitty start from both sides as this photo shows...

 

9.14PM: CLOSE! 'Trezeguet' comes so close with a curling effort from the edge of the box... Egypt finding their feet in this game ...

9.12PM: Mohamed Salah still yet to come into the game, but Egypt looking much brighter than in the first minutes...

9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...

8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...

8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from our vantage point he is...

 

8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically? 

For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace. 

 

8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...

RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov,  Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs:  Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat,  Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.

EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed,  Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary,  Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy,  Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy. 

 

8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why.. 

 

 

8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.