Awesome Omar Abdulrahman and unlucky Al-Hilal: Five things we learned from the AFC Champions League group stage

Omar Abdulrahman was key to Al-Ain's progress to the second round.
Updated 17 April 2018
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Awesome Omar Abdulrahman and unlucky Al-Hilal: Five things we learned from the AFC Champions League group stage

  • Al-Hilal exit can be explained by bad luck with injuries.
  • Omar Abdulrahman found form to power Al-Ain to knockout stages.

The group stage of this year’s AFC Champions League finishes today after two months of great goals, shocks and sackings. Here are five things we have learned ahead of the knockout stage.
SHORT-CHANGED SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia are the most successful West Asian nation in terms of continental club championships won — only Japan and South Korea have bagged more. So it does not sit right that this continental powerhouse had only two teams in the group stage. Iran had four, the UAE had four and Qatar had four, so it seems strange that Saudi Arabia (provider of two teams in the past four finals) had just the two. If those other nations deserved to have a quartet in the group stage, then so did Saudi Arabia.

INJURIES HAMPER AL-HILAL

It was only last November when Al-Hilal were unlucky to lose the final of the AFC Champions League. The Riyadh giants should have won against Urawa Reds, but were hampered by the injury to star Brazilian attacking midfielder Carlos Eduardo in the first leg. If he had stayed on the pitch, Al-Hilal might have won the title and also got out of their group. Add in the fact Omar Khribin played no part in this year’s group stages, also because of injury, and you can see why the Saudi powerhouses might be bemoaning their luck.

EAST ASIA HOLDS NO FEARS

There are two teams that look especially dangerous in the eastern side of the draw — Shanghai SIPG of China and South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. With Hulk and Oscar, the Chinese team have the firepower to trouble the best Asian defenses. Jeonbuk have strength in depth and an experience in the competition that is hard to match. Apart from that duo, though, there is little West Asian teams have to fear.

UAE HOPES REAT ON OMAR

Al-Ain may have been champions in 2003 and runners-up in 2016, but they struggled in the group stage with no wins in the first four games. Ultimately, it was left to Omar Abdulrahman to step forward in the final two games to inspire his team to two wins and second place in Group D. If Al-Ain are to repeat their earlier success than it all depends on their much-lauded playmaker. If he does not shine in Asia, neither do they.
 
UZBEKS DISAPPOINT AGAIN

There is real talent in the Central Asian nation, but for some reason their teams rarely make any impact. Whether at club or country level, Uzbekistan sides never quite deliver. The national team has been on the brink of World Cup qualification more than once, but when the big prize has been in sight, they have failed to step up. It is the same at club level where they rarely fulfil their potential.


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.