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
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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.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.