Tunisia lose their World Cup coach to Qatar champions Al-Duhail

Nabil Maaloul took charge of 13 Tunisia games. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Tunisia lose their World Cup coach to Qatar champions Al-Duhail

  • Nabil Maaloul leaves after 'tempting offer'
  • Former Tunisian international thought Maaloul 'failed in his tactical choices' at World Cup

LONDON: Tunisia have lost national team coach Nabil Maaloul to Qatar champions Al-Duhail — and football experts in the Arab nation are divided as to whether the team have progressed under his watch.
Maaloul failed to take the Carthage Eagles to the knockout stage for the first time in their fifth appearance at the World Cup, but he did take the nation to 14th in the world and that was clearly enough to spark interest from Al-Duhail. He was appointed as their new boss on Friday.
“I received a tempting offer two days ago,” Maaloul told Tunisian radio on Thursday.
The Tunisian federation confirmed the Al-Duhail offer and released the former international from his contract, despite collecting a first World Cup win since 1978 courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Panama. That game, however, was a dead rubber following a last-minute loss to England and then a 5-2 defeat against Belgium.
Maaloul defended his record since taking the job last year. “I am proud of what the Tunisian team achieved this year, reaching 14 in the world rankings,” he said. “I am also proud of what we did at the World Cup despite the difficulty of a group that contained England and Belgium who both reached the semifinals.”
Despite the tough opposition, there have been critics. Legendary former Tunisian international Zoubeir Baya questioned the coach, who has also been derided for his pre-tournament target of a place in the last eight.
“Maaloul failed in his tactical choices in the first two games,” said the ex-midfielder who appeared at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. “He also got it wrong in the selection of players for the tournament.”
Baya questioned the inclusion of Yohan Benalouane, a defender who played just one Premier League game for Leicester City, while leaving out Marseilles star Aymen Abdennour.
Another Tunisian veteran, Yamen Ben Zekry, believes that Maaloul deserves more time.
“It is worth continuing with him and he should be judged after the 2019 African Nations Cup,” said the Kuwaiti-based defender as qualification for the tournament continues in September. There is an acceptance that the team were too open against Belgium. “His style is usually offensive and there is a need to sort out the defensive issues but that would come with more games and time.”
Maaloul also believes that it will also take time for Tunisia to compete with the established powers of the game. “We have a long distance from the high level and we have to work a lot and change our lifestyle, the quality of the exercises and the study. In my opinion, we must wait for two more generations to reach the high level of football, which is characterized by speed, physical strength and discipline.”
His arrival in Doha means that current Al-Duhail boss Djamel Belmadi will be on his way. According to reports in the region, the former Algeria midfielder is set to become coach of the Algeria national team, a post that became vacant last month with the dismissal of Rabah Madjer.
Earlier this week, Vahid Halilhodzic denied that he had accepted an offer to return to Algeria, the team that he led to the second round of the World Cup in 2014.
“I had calls to replace Rabah Madjer but I assure you that there is nothing official and that I have no agreement with anyone,” Halilhodzic said. “Things are complicated in Algerian football at the moment.”


Saudi weightlifter Mansour Al-Saleem wins record 3 Asian gold medals

Updated 21 April 2019
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Saudi weightlifter Mansour Al-Saleem wins record 3 Asian gold medals

  • Al-Saleem won three gold medals in the snatch, jerk and combination in the 55kg weight category
  • The competition in Ningbo, in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, will continue for the next 8 days

RIYADH: Saudi national Mansour Abdulrahim Al-Saleem won three gold medals in the snatch, jerk and combination, ranking the first in the 55 kg weight category, at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in China.

He lifted 122 kilograms to head the standings, with Kazakhstan’s Arli Chontey and Malaysia’s Azroy Hazalwafie following on 113kg and 112kg, respectively.

The clean and jerk discipline saw Al-Saleem again head the leaderboard on 140kg.

Hazalwafie lifted just four kilograms less in second, while Sri Lanka’s Dilanka Isuru Kumara was third on 135kg.

Al-Saleem’s efforts in both disciplines saw him convincingly clinch the overall title with a combined 262kg.

He finished ahead of Hazalwafie on 248kg, while Chontey placed third on 246kg.

The champion set a new achievement by winning the first Asian gold medal in weightlifting for the Kingdom.

The president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, Mohammed Al-Harbi, thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, sports officials and the Saudi people for supporting the field, which led to “such a great achievement.”

Amidst an arena full of a host of Olympic and international champions, Saudi Arabia’s national anthem was played and the Kingdom’s flag was raised, as Al-Saleem praised the ability of Saudi sportsmen in all international and regional sports sectors.

A further eight days of competition will continue for the next 8 days in China's eastern city of Ningbo, in Zhejiang province. Medals will be won across 20 categories, 10 for men and 10 for women.