Saudi Arabia giants Al-Ahli land Egypt World Cup hopeful

Al-Ahli have pulled off something of a coup by announcing Egypt star Abdallah El-Said has joined them on a two-year contract. (AFP)
Updated 23 May 2018

Saudi Arabia giants Al-Ahli land Egypt World Cup hopeful

RIYADH: Al-Ahli have pulled off something of a coup by announcing Egypt star Abdallah El-Said has joined them on a two-year contract.
The 33-year-old attacking midfielder has won 33 caps for his country and has been named in the extended 29-man squad for the World Cup. He will find out if he has made Hector Cuper's final 23-man party for the World Cup in Russia on June 4.
Should he make the cut, he could well come up against some of his new Al-Ahli teammates when Saudi Arabia meet Egypt on June 25.
The signing of El-Said, from Egypt giants Al-Ahly where he made 154 appearances in seven years, represents a coup for Al-Ahli and a further statement of their intent to challenge Al-Hilal for the Saudi Pro League title next season. They lost out to Al-Hilal by a point on the final day of last season, but they have appointed a new coach in Pablo Guede and tied key players Omar Al-Somah, Mohamed Al-Fateel and Motaz Hawsawi to new deals.
Abdallah El-Said will be one of seven foreign players allowed in a Pro League squad next season, joining imports Mark Milligan, Al-Somah, Giannis Fetfatzidis, Claudemir and Leonardo in the ranks of the Jeddah club.
El-Said has spent the last two months on loan at Finnish club Kuopion Palloseura as he sought to gain match fitness ahead of the World Cup.
"Abdallah is a big name and very high-level player, we are happy to have him here," said KuPS sporting director Konstantin Shipulin at the time.

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.