Fighting performance from Al-Ahli not enough as Saudi club exit AFC Champions League

Al-Ahli exited the 2018 AFC Champions League on Monday after a 2-2 draw with Al-Sadd. (AFP)
Updated 14 May 2018

Fighting performance from Al-Ahli not enough as Saudi club exit AFC Champions League

JEDDAH: Al-Ahli exited the 2018 AFC Champions League on Monday after a 2-2 draw with Al-Sadd in their second leg in Jeddah gave the Qatari team a 4-3 aggregate win in this round of 16 clash.
It was a fighting performance from the Saudi Arabian team, down 2-1 from the first leg in Doha a week earlier, who recovered from conceding an early goal to push Al-Sadd all the way in an open and exciting game.
Two goals from tournament top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah made the difference. The first came after just three minutes as, just as in the first leg, Al-Ahli fell conceded early.
Bounedjah was freed on the left and given too much space to cut inside to enter the penalty area and fire a right-footed shot past the despairing dive of Mohammed Al-Owais.
Within five minutes however, the hosts drew level on the night with a simple free-kick. The Al Sadd defence failed to deal with Saleh Al-Amri’s floated ball into the area from the right side and there was Claudemir at the far post to head home from close range.
At the 20-minute mark, Al Ahli almost scored from a similar position. Al-Amri sent another cross from the right to the far post but this time, Salman Muwashar headed high and wide from a closer range and a tighter angle. Soon after, Claudemir was shooting over from the edge of the area as Al-Ahli started to pile on the pressure.
Yet just past the half-hour it was Al-Sadd who should have scored. A delightful pass from former Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez found Akram Afif free inside the area but Al-Owais came out quickly to block the shot with his legs. Moments later, Morteza Pouraliganji shot just wide from a free-kick.
Six minutes before the break, Al Ahli were back on level terms for the first time in the tie since the opening minutes of the first leg. This time, the delivery came in from the left and Mansour Al-Harbi’s inswinging cross was met by Aseri, who got the better of Abdelkarim Hassan and bundled home from close range to tie the overall score at 3-3.
Both teams continued to attack after the restart with the first chance falling to Xavi whose low shot was well-saved by Al-Owais. The goalkeeper was helpless just before the hour as Bounedjah’s overhead kick from close range rattled the crossbar as Al Sadd threatened to take control.
Shortly after however, Aseri missed an open goal that would have put Al-Ahli ahead. Abdulafttah Asiri sent over a perfect low cross from the left that eluded everyone except the Saudi striker who somehow shot over from inside the six-yard box.
The turning point came with 20 minutes remaining. Claudemir brought down Hamid Ismaeil in the area and while Al-Owais saved Bounedjah’s initial shot, the Algerian followed up to send Al Sadd into the last eight and end Saudi Arabian participation in the 2018 AFC Champions League.

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.