Ali Al-Habsi confident of prolonged Al-Hilal success under Jorge Jesus after Super Cup win

Ali Al-Hasbi was thrilled Carlos Eduardo emerged as the star of the Saudi Super Cup final, and believes Al-Hilal will have a successful period under new coach Jorge Jesus. (Twitter: @AlHilal_EN)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Ali Al-Habsi confident of prolonged Al-Hilal success under Jorge Jesus after Super Cup win

  • Eduardo had been absent since December after suffering the dreaded cruciate knee ligament injury
  • He made his competitive comeback against Al-Shabab on Sunday but announced his full return to form and fitness against Al-Ittihad in London

LONDON: Ali Al-Hasbi was thrilled Carlos Eduardo emerged as the star of the Saudi Super Cup final, believing his goal was a fitting reward for the torment he went through during his spell out injured.
Eduardo had been absent since December after suffering the dreaded cruciate knee ligament injury in the first leg of the AFC Champions League final with Urawa Reds.
He had a complex operation in Brazil and has spent this year building up the strength in his knee with some long and lonely hours in the gym.
He made his competitive comeback against Al-Shabab on Sunday but announced his full return to form and fitness against Al-Ittihad in London on Saturday night, scoring the first in a 2-1 win over the Tigers.
The nature of his celebration – a double knee slide to the corner – demonstrated the confidence he now has in the joint and the relief that his injury hell is over.
“It’s fantastic for him,” Al-Habsi, the Omani goalkeeper, told Arab News as he did a lap of honor with the trophy around the pitch.
“He has been out for seven months and to come back, play like that, score a goal is fantastic. It’s unbelievable as it was a bad injury and he had to work really hard to recover.”
Gelmin Rivas got the second goal to ensure Jorge Jesus launched his reign as coach by winning the Saudi Super Cup, making a statement in the process that Al-Hilal will again be the team to beat this season.
“It’s fantastic to get a start like this,” said Al-Habsi. “It’s a brilliant to win a derby game and it’s always tough against them. We have made the fans very happy and we can now push for the start of the season. I believe we can win a lot of trophies if we can push hard.”
Jesus came in to replace Ramon Diaz who, ironically, was in charge of Al-Ittihad on Saturday night. Jesus won everything in Portugal and he is expected to deliver similar success at Al-Hilal.
“He’s been fantastic since he has come in,” said Al-Habsi. “We did some good work with him in Austria, he has got some good ideas and I think we are going to do well under him. It’s the perfect start that we won this trophy under him.”
Al-Habsi turns 37 in December and this is his 20th season as a professional, but he is showing no signs of aging and looks set to start the season as No. 1 ahead of Abdullah Al-Mayouf.
“I still feel very good,” he said. “I feel very fit and I am very pleased. I’m really enjoying life at Al-Hilal. It’s a massive club.”
The game in Loftus Road, in front of more than 16,000 boisterous fans, was quite the introduction to football in Saudi Arabia for Aleksandar Pesic. The Serbian arrived at Al-Ittihad this summer from Red Star Belgrade and he made a difference after coming on as a half-time substitute.
“The first half we didn’t play very well but we were more attacking in the second half after the coach changed things,” he told Arab News. “But we conceded two goals because of mistakes. But this is football. It was a very strong game.”
Al-Ittihad finished ninth last season but they should be aiming much higher than that this season on the evidence of things against Al-Hilal.
“If we play like this in the league, I think we will have a good chance for the championship,” Pesic said. “Maybe we win, maybe we lose but we will always give 100 percent, then I believe we can do good things. We will try to be champions.”
It will be a tough ask to finish ahead of Al-Hilal, though. They won the league last season and look even stronger following the additions of Alberto Botia, Andre Carrillo and Omar Abdulrahman.
“It’s a very good team, a very compact team with a good coach and good players,” said Pesic. “They are very tough to play against and I’m sure they will have a strong season.”


Kane Williamson leads New Zealand to dramatic, last-over win against South Africa at Edgbaston

Updated 17 min 51 sec ago
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Kane Williamson leads New Zealand to dramatic, last-over win against South Africa at Edgbaston

  • Williamson and de Grandhomme joined with the total at 137-5 in reply to South Africa’s 241-6
  • The win moved New Zealand atop the standings

BIRMINGHAM: Kane Williamson hit a six in the last over to reach his century and followed it up with a boundary to give New Zealand a four-wicket victory over South Africa with three balls to spare Wednesday, in the closest finish of the Cricket World Cup so far.
New Zealand went into the last over at 234-6 and chasing 242 for victory. Andile Phehlukwayo’s first ball was sent for a single by Mitchell Santner, sensibly giving Williamson the strike, and the New Zealand captain immediately took his chance with a powerful six.
Williamson finished 106 not out off 138 balls as New Zealand reached 245-6 in a match reduced to 49 overs each innings.
He called it “a great game of cricket on a surface that was tough for both sides.”
The win moved New Zealand atop the standings and effectively put an end to South Africa’s chances of reaching the playoffs.
“I’m feeling five years older. My body is really sore after that,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “We left everything out there, and that’s all I can ask for as a captain, that the guys fought.”
So did Williamson, who was brilliantly supported and occasionally overshadowed by Colin de Grandhomme, who smashed a 47-ball 60, with five fours and two sixes. He impatiently holed out to du Plessis at long-off to a delivery from Lungi Ngidi at the start of the penultimate over — the 48th — while going for his third six.
Williamson and de Grandhomme joined with the total at 137-5 in reply to South Africa’s 241-6 off 49 overs, and their partnership was crucial in guiding New Zealand to its fourth win of the tournament.
The Black Caps now have nine points, one clear of top-ranked England and defending champion Australia. At the other end of the table, South Africa is almost certainly out of contention — in the first major shock of the 2019 edition — with only three points from six games.
The New Zealanders appeared content with the run chase ahead of them but the wicket was trickier than it appeared, and the chase far harder. Except for Williamson.
The Black Caps had kept an unchanged XI from its last completed match against Afghanistan on June 8. Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi (1-47) returned from a hamstring injury in South Africa’s only change from its nine-wicket win over Afghanistan last Saturday.
Williamson won everything on Wednesday, including the toss. And while New Zealand failed to bowl out a team for the first time at the tournament, South Africa’s total appeared too little to test the Black Caps. Yet the result was in the balance until the end.
“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed. Cricket means a lot to me, and the performance of this team means a lot to me,” du Plessis said.
Hashim Amla reached a personal landmark as the second-quickest batsman with 8,000 runs in ODIs, but the 36-year-old opener again took his time with an 83-ball 55 before falling to Santner’s spin.
Amla shared a 50-run second-wicket partnership with du Plessis (23) and a 52-run third-wicket stand with Aiden Markram (38). But it was mostly slow going.
Rassie van der Dussen provided some late-innings impetus with an unbeaten 67 off 64 balls, with two fours and three sixes. David Miller scored a lively 36 from 37. The pair shared a partnership of 72.
Miller swung and hit intimidating quick Ferguson for a four to bring up the 200 at the start of the 45th over and clipped the pacer away for another boundary right after. Ferguson had the last laugh in the same over when Miller top edged deep to Trent Boult at third man.
Boult had bowled Quinton de Kock for 5 to win an early battle but finished on 1-63.
Ferguson did the most damage with 3-59 while Matt Henry bowled tightly, with two maidens, ending on 0-34.
Martin Guptill became the first New Zealander to be dismissed by hitting his own wicket in any Cricket World Cup tournament, dating back as far as 1975. In the end it didn’t matter.