Al-Ittihad seek to salvage their season in King's Cup final against Al-Faisaly

The fans of Al-Ittihad hope to be celebrating a ninth King's Cup success. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Al-Ittihad seek to salvage their season in King's Cup final against Al-Faisaly

  • Jeddah giants finished a disappointing ninth in the league
  • Al-Faisaly finished three places higher and boast the coach of the year

Al-Ittihad coach Jose Luis Sierra is hoping to finish a disappointing season on a high by defeating Al-Faisaly in the King’s Cup on Saturday.
The Jeddah giants finished ninth in the 2017-18 Saudi Pro League that ended last month, but they can qualify for next year’s AFC Champions League by lifting the King’s Cup trophy for the ninth time.
Sierra knows it will not be easy against an Al-Faisaly team that finished three places higher in the league, a performance that saw opposite number Vuk Rasovic named coach of the season.
“We haven’t beaten them this season and so we will have to play with all our strength and determination,” Sierra told Saudi Arabian television. “They have a great coach in Rasovic who deserved his award.
“We have prepared well for the final and had a successful training camp in the UAE to give the players the right environment away from the pressure of the final.”
These are troubled times for the two-time champions of Asia. Unmet financial obligations to players and coaches were a major factor in the team not being granted an AFC club license needed to participate in this year’s AFC Champions League. With help from the General Sports Authority, the club is attempting to return to an even financial keel.
“We fought against tough circumstances,” said Sierra, who will welcome goalkeeper Fawaz Al-Qarni back from a national team training camp in Spain.
“We have not been able to sign players and we also lost one of the best players in the country in Fahad Al-Muwallad,” added the coach in reference to the star winger being loaned to La Liga club Levante in January. “We challenged for third place for a long time which is better than many clubs could have managed in our situation.”
Sierra refused to confirm whether he will stay for next season, adding his decision will rest on whether he will be able to strengthen the squad. “We need to end the problems that we have had this year, both on and off the pitch, and according to that I will decide whether to go or stay but if the issues continue, it will be difficult to stay.”
It is definitely the final game in charge of Faisaly for coach Rasovic, according to reports in Serbia.
The former Partizan Belgrade boss arrived in Saudi Arabia in May last year and took the club to within a point of the top four. A move to the UAE club Al-Dhafra beckons.
“We had a tough route to get to the final and we expect another tough game,” said Rasovic. “It has not been easy to prepare because the league ended in April and we have been without competitive games but we are ready.”
Despite the difference in league positions, Al-Ittihad are seen as favorites, but Rasovic has other ideas.
“We have faced Al-Ittihad three times this season, twice in the league and once in a friendly, and we have not lost, so it will not be an easy task for them to win,” he said.
“We are not afraid of Al-Ittihad. If we play to our level then we don’t need to worry about them. I am concerned only about how our players perform.”


Saudia E-Prix returns to Ad Diriyah with double header

Updated 24 June 2019
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Saudia E-Prix returns to Ad Diriyah with double header

  • The event will take place on Nov. 22 and 23
  • Two major races will take place in this year’s E-Prix, which made its Middle East debut in the Kingdom last year

DUBAI: The Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix is set to bring two races and more global acts in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 22 and 23, adding twice the excitement to a historic event held at UNESCO world heritage site, according to the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia (GSA).

“This year we look forward to igniting an even bigger season of motor racing for Formula E, we’re ready to welcome even more international visitors, and create another unforgettable moment for our people,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Chairman of the GSA, said in a statement.

Two major races will take place in this year’s E-Prix, which made its Middle East debut in the Kingdom last year with only one race. Music icons such as David Guetta, Enrique Iglesias, One Republic and the Black-Eyed Peas performed during the event. It was reportedly attended by some 60,000 people.

“This year sees even more teams enter the Formula E championship, with Porsche and Mercedes entering the fray. Last year Ad Diriyah was the launchpad for the new Gen 2 race cars and the exciting Attack Zone innovation. This year will be the first-time drivers will have an additional 10kW of power available when using that Attack Mode, rising from 225kW to 235kW,” Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al Faisal Al Saud, President of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF), said.

“Add to that, a double header – two races instead of one - with a total of 24 cars competing. This will fire up Saudi Arabia’s passion for motorsports and we are ready to welcome Formula E back,” he added.

The GSA is expecting crowds of up to 100,000 people to attend the E-Prix, given the improvements in the visa processing for tourists.

The 2019 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix will be the second year of a 10-year partnership between ABB FIA Formula E and the GSA and the SAMF.