Saudi Arabia out to make up for wasted opportunities against Egypt in World Cup dead rubber

Fahad Al-Muwallad is looking to get on the scoresheet for the Green Falcons against Egypt.
Updated 25 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia out to make up for wasted opportunities against Egypt in World Cup dead rubber

  • Green Falcons to face Egypt in final game of Group A
  • Both side already out of the World Cup after defeats to Russia and Uruguay

VOLGOGRAD: Fahad Al-Muwallad has promised to make up for wasted opportunities when he and his Saudi Arabia teammates face Middle East neighbors Egypt in their final match of the World Cup on Monday.
Al-Muwallad, the pacy forward heralded as the Green Falcons’ most dangerous goal-threat, was left on the bench for much of his team’s embarrassing opening day defeat to Russia. By the time he was introduced in the 64th minute, Saudi Arabia were already 2-0 down and would go on to concede three more without response. In their second match, the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay, the diminutive winger was recalled to the starting line-up and employed as a center forward, but struggled against a dominant defense that included the twin towers of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. 
“The first match was very difficult,” said Al-Muwallad, who spent the past six months on loan at Levante from Al-Ittihad.
“We were surprised, taken aback and confused. We wanted to win. Our match against Uruguay then became a decisive match because we needed to get the three points, but were unable to do so. Against Egypt, we have another difficult match and hope to get the three points.”
The poor results prompted much scrutiny at the highest levels of Saudi Arabian football with Turki Al-Alsheikh, the head of the country’s General Sports Authority, simultaneously taking responsibility and blaming the players.
Al-Muwallad, when asked if the administrative issues had affected their preparations for their final Group A match, instead focused on his team’s chance to make amends.
“Everyone has done their best,” he said.
“The managers of the team gave us a great deal of support, Saudi Arabia supported us. Perhaps we wasted a few opportunities, but we have a chance to make up for what happened since the beginning. We have a bright future ahead of us as players. We want to win the three points and we want to make the Saudi fans happy and hope that we will be able to do so.”
While the Green Falcons are without a World Cup win for 12 consecutive games, a streak running back to 1994, Egypt have never won at the tournament. Yet it is the Pharaohs that have the better record against their neighbors from across the Red Sea. After six FIFA-recognized meetings, Egypt lead the head-to-head series with four wins and a draw. With English Premier League top goalscorer Mohamed Salah in their ranks, Hector Cuper’s side will enter the match at Volgograd Arena as favorites. 
“Of course our match against Egypt will be a very difficult match,” Al-Muwallad said. “Every squad and team dreams of winning a World Cup game. We want those three points, regardless of the opponent and while we respect them, I think they recognize that the Saudi team a is a team to be reckoned with. We will enjoy the match.”
Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Saudi Arabia coach, said he has no specific plan to combat the threat of Salah, much like he employed no particular man-marking plan against Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. His Green Falcons, however, are well aware of the Liverpool forward’s threat.
“When you face an opposition that has high individual qualities, you have to show this to your players and prepare them so they know what to do to stave them off,” said Pizzi. “Salah has huge qualities and it is no coincidence that he has had such a wonderful career — especially this past year in England — so we will take precautions and try to contain him — although not only him — and stave off any sort of attacking play that they might try to develop.”
With midfielder Taiseer Al-Jassem pulling his hamstring against Uruguay and Omar Hawsawi and Mohammed Al-Burayk also struggling to be fit, Pizzi will likely need to shuffle his pack. Yet while the Argentine conceded he is already thinking about next January’s Asian Cup, he said he does not intend to use the dead rubber as a chance to give younger players experience. 
“We will field the best team possible,” Pizzi said. “Of course, we have 23 players in the squad, but we will choose the team that will provide us our very best opportunity in a match that is very important for us. We will give our very best and play our best possible line-up. 
“Regarding strategies and tactics, we know how Egypt play. I have a very good relationship with Hector Cuper and have known him for a very long time. So we will try to impose our way of playing and try to prevail with a win.”


New Zealand rugby team Canterbury Crusaders under pressure to change name after mosque shootings

Updated 18 March 2019
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New Zealand rugby team Canterbury Crusaders under pressure to change name after mosque shootings

  • The Canterbury Crusaders has won the Super Rugby Championship nine times since the competition began in 1996
  • Christchurch is the major city in the Canterbury region of New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The world’s most successful rugby franchise is under pressure to change its name following the mosque shootings in Christchurch.
The Canterbury Crusaders has won the Super Rugby Championship nine times since the competition began in 1996. The championship involved teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa at the beginning, but has since included a team from Argentina and one from Japan.
Christchurch is the major city in the Canterbury region of New Zealand.
After the killing of 50 people at two Christchurch mosques on Friday, commentators have called for the Crusaders to change name.
To critics, the name carries undertones of religious war and hatred. The Crusades refer to the religious wars between Christians and Muslims in part to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. Eight major Crusades occurred between 1096 and 1291.
The Crusaders rugby team logo features a sword-wielding Knight. At the start of each home game in Christchurch, men dressed as crusading Knights ride horses on to the field to the tune of Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis.
Christchurch-based writer James Dann was one of the first to call for a name change for the region’s treasured rugby team.
“I don’t see how the Crusaders can ever play a match under that name in this city again,” he wrote on Twitter.

 

 

He described the Crusaders as “a symbol of white rage against Muslims”, adding that “We don’t have to find a new name for them yet. We all know that they represent Canterbury. The search for a new name could be a chance for the region to reflect on the trauma of the last decade, and choose something that reflects our strength, and dare I say, resilience.”
Paul Thompson, chief executive of Radio New Zealand, the country’s public broadcaster, chimed in, tweeting that: “The Crusaders have to change their name, and change it now,” Thompson wrote on Twitter.

 

 

The editor of current affairs news outlet Newsroom, Tim Murphy, wrote on Twitter: “It’s easy for the Crusaders to drop that absurd name – just change it to the Champions.”

 

 

In response, Crusaders management released a statement saying the name was “a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community”.
The name was not “a religious statement”.
“Like all New Zealanders, the Crusaders team and organisation are deeply shocked by this tragedy and our thoughts primarily are with the victims and their families right now. This is bigger than rugby and we’re absolutely heartbroken for our wider community, which is where our thoughts are at this point in time.
The statement continued: “In terms of the Crusaders name, we acknowledge and understand the concerns that have been raised. For us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community, and certainly not a religious statement. What we stand for is the opposite of what happened in Christchurch yesterday; our crusade is one for peace, unity, inclusiveness and community spirit.
“This team and the wider organisation are united with our community in standing against such abhorrent acts as that which occurred [on Friday] in Christchurch, and in standing in support of our Muslim community.

 

 

 

A gunman walked into the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and opened fire with a semi-automatic gun. He livestreamed the attack. A second shooting took place not long after at another mosque in the city.
Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Tarrant - who has travelled to Europe and visited crusader sites - has been charged with murder after the attacks.