Manchester City have the best players in the world and are ready to win Champions League, claims Mikel Arteta

Manchester City have once again started the season in fine form. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2018

Manchester City have the best players in the world and are ready to win Champions League, claims Mikel Arteta

  • Abu Dhabi-owned club start as favorites to land the biggest trophy in club football.
  • City face Group F rivals Lyon home in opener.

LONDON: Manchester City have the best players in the world and have what it takes to win this season’s Champions League. That is according to Abu Dhabi owned club’s assistant manager Miekl Arteta ahead of their Group F opener against Lyon. 

Having won the Premier League at a stroll — setting many records along the way — City are one of the favorites once again to land the most sought-after trophy in club football. Last season they fell in the last-eight, losing to eventual finalists Liverpool. But with an extra year’s experience under their belts, Arteta is confident the side can go all the way this time. 

“For me we have the best players in the world at this club,” the Spaniard said. “I see them every day in training and I wouldn’t change them for any others because they are fantastic. The hunger in the group is incredible and that’s not something everyone notices. People need to look inside the club — it’s not just about the money we have to spend.”

Arteta will be in charge in the dugout for tonight’s clash against Lyon due to Pep Guardiola’s suspension for coming on to the pitch during the European defeat to Liverpool. But while he is sure of his side’s class and ability to win the Champions League, Arteta had defending champions Real Madrid as favorites. 

“It’s hard to make comparisons, we still have a very young squad,” the City assistant manager said. “It is a surprise to be made favorites when there is a team out there that has won the competition three times in a row. 

“Even if they have lost Cristiano Ronaldo I would still make Real Madrid the main favorites because of their history and their experience, but I do think the Champions League is going to be quite open this season. There isn’t that much between the top teams.”

Saudi Karate-ka wins country's first ever Olympic gold

Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Assiri wins historic first gold for the country.
Updated 24 min 32 sec ago

Saudi Karate-ka wins country's first ever Olympic gold

  • I have been working towards this moment for 10 years, said the gold medalist
  • I came for gold and this is the result of years of serious work: Al-Assiri

BUENOS AIRES: It is said that the karate-ka who has given the necessary years of commitment and meditation to the sport is both fearless and tranquil. They can, it is said, be calm even in a burning building.

Last night, inside a furnace-like Europe Pavilion at the Youth Olympic Park, and in front of Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Assiri won the Kingdom its first ever Olympic gold medal. And welcomed it, initially at least, with utmost calm. 

Defeating Masaki Yamaoka of Japan 8-0 in the Men’s Kumite -61kg final, the 17-year-old Saudi immediately thanked his opponent and bowed to the various officials, before turning to his coach, removing his red gloves slowly, and greeting him with a starch salute. Only afterwards, once these rituals of respect were over and his opponent had slipped away, did Al-Assiri explode with joy, his face contorting into beautiful agony as he screamed in guttural Arabic and jumped around the mat.

“I am so happy, so proud,” he said, his prize glinting in the spotlight of the world’s media. “This is the first gold medal for Saudi Arabia and our first medal ever in karate. I have been working towards this moment for 10 years, especially in the past two when my training intensified. I came for gold and this is the result of years of serious work. It was very difficult, but I am just so proud. Thank you to Allah.”

The victory marked Saudi’s third time on the podium at the two-week Youth Olympics, after bronze medals in weightlifting and 400m Hurdles. It is a stellar return for a country that brought only nine athletes to Argentina and has won just one medal at this level before, a bronze in equestrian four years ago. Yousef Jalaiden, the chef de mission for the Saudi delegation, had confidently predicted medals earlier this week, but even he admits expectations have been exceeded.

“We are very happy right now,” Jalaiden said, watching as Al-Assiri, wrapped in the Saudi flag, posed for photos with Prince Fahd bin Juluwe bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, the head of the delegation. “It’s our best achievement ever at an Olympics — be it Youth or the full Olympics. We are so happy — we hoped for three medals, like I said before, and we got them,”

Karate is making its Olympic debut this week ahead of Tokyo 2020 and Assiri had secured his place after winning at the first qualifying event in Croatia this summer. In front of vocal support from Saudis and Egyptians, he was handed the historic victory after his offensive front-footed display culminated with Yamaoka fouling four times during their bout.

“During training, people from other countries were all telling us Mohammed would take gold, but for us it was never a certainty,” Jalaiden added. “We expected him to reach the final, but when you get to a final, anything can happen. He has been training exceptionally hard though and it has all paid off.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Egypt’s Yasmin Nasr El-Gewily won the Women’s Kumite 53kg final, defeating Japan’s Rinka Tahata 2-1. “Egypt are our neighbours and we have an excellent relationship with them, so today it is like our nation is one,” said Jalaiden. “We have both enjoyed great success here.”