Argentina boss happy after easy win over Iraq

Iraq's Amjed Kadhim, left, competes for the ball with Argentina's Lautaro Martinez during the 4-0 defeat in Saudi Arabia (AP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Argentina boss happy after easy win over Iraq

  • Argentina, without Lionel Messi, run out easy 4-0 winners in Saudi Arabia capital.
  • South Americans using the two matches in the Kingdom to blood younger players.

RIYADH:

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni said he was pleased with his side’s 4-0 victory over Iraq in Riyadh as he looks to build for the future.

The South Americans, without star man Lionel Messi who has been rested for the two-match tour in Saudi Arabia where they will also face arch-rival Brazil, easily saw off Iraq on Thursday, thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez, Roberto Pereyra, German Pezzella and Franco Cervi.

The clashes come just months after La Albiceleste had a World Cup to forget. They limped out of the group stage only to exit at the second-round stage at the hands of the eventual champions, France. 

The side’s time in the Kingdom is very much about moving on from the World Cup woe and blooding younger players. 

Inter Milan forward Martinez struck his first goal for his country to give Argentina the lead in the 18th minute at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. From that point on there was only one winner as the South Americans showed their class in the Saudi Arabian capital. 

Pereyra added the second goal in the 53rd — the Watford star’s made his first international appearance for three years — before Pezzella and Cervi struck.

Pezzella grabbed a third eight minutes from full-time when he headed home after a flick on at a corner and Cervi added a fourth in injury time after a surging run from midfield.

The friendly marked the return of goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who was forced out of the World Cup with a knee injury.

Scaloni said the focus of the two matches — they face Brazil at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah on Tuesday. —   was on blooding younger players.

“I stressed our will to win the match, to attack non-stop and to keep scoring goals,” he said after 4-0 thrashing.

“It was a good test, we are happy with it.”

Regarding the clash against Brazil Scaloni joked: “We will park the bus, defend. “Actually we want to play well, fight for it, no doubt.”

Regarding the Iraq win Pezzella admitted: "It wasn't easy opening them up but we managed it and we were patient and managed to score more goals.”

The win took Argentina's unbeaten run under interim coach Scaloni to three games. Since taking over from Jorge Sampaoli after Argentina's poor performance in Russia, the South Americans have beaten Guatemala and Iraq and drawn with Colombia, without conceding a goal.


Philippines clinches top two spots in Saudi Arabian women’s bowling competition

Updated 20 May 2019
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Philippines clinches top two spots in Saudi Arabian women’s bowling competition

  • Competitors from Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Philippines, the US, India and Saudi Arabia joined the tournament

ALKHOBAR: The Philippines claimed the top two spots in a bowling championship in Saudi Arabia.

Kryztine Cruz and Irene Pua emerged as champion and runner-up at the Women’s Bowling Championship, which was organized by the Saudi Bowling Federation and held on Saturday at the Al-Gosaibi Bowling Center in Alkhobar. Saudi Arabia’s Nahla Adas finished third.

Competitors from Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Philippines, the US, India and the Kingdom entered the tournament. The field was cut by half to 26 after the preliminary round. The top 13 in the first round advanced to the semifinals where the top three qualified for the stepladder finals.

In the first match of the stepladder, Cruz beat Adas 212-158 to earn a shot at No. 1 qualifier Pua. The Eastern Province-based and second-seeded Cruz brought down Pua 243-189 in the title match.

Adas has participated in local championships in addition to competing in the Arab Championship held in Egypt earlier this year. She said she had found “true pleasure” in bowling and that the competition was very vigorous at Al-Gosaibi. 

“I am proud of the presence of Gulf women and the increased awareness and acceptance of winning and losing in the spirit of the game,” said Adas.

“The atmosphere was different and, for the first time, we hosted a bowling championship in our homeland with this number of skilful players of several nationalities. The presence of the first Saudi bowling team by my side in every shot has played a big role in crucial rounds. I’m also grateful for Kuwaiti and Bahraini support until the very end. Jeddah players were also present for the first time ... which means that the competition will become more vigorous in upcoming tournaments with the presence of three Saudi women’s teams.”

The Arab Bowling Championship was won by the hosts Egypt, with Oman claiming silver and Bahrain the bronze. The Saudi women’s team of four finished in seventh place in the team event, but were hopeful that the experience could prove to be a springboard to future success and greater participation of Saudi women in the sport.

Razan Baker, a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Bowling Federation, said after the event that she was “honored” to supervise the team during its first tournament outside the Kingdom.