Saudi Arabian U-19 success shows youth can flourish on home soil

Updated 12 November 2018
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Saudi Arabian U-19 success shows youth can flourish on home soil

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s recent success in winning the AFC U-19 Championship and Turki Al-Ammar in being named the tournament’s “most valuable player” is proof that young players do not always have to leave the country to develop, according to the former CEO of Al-Shabab.
Al-Ammar shone as a creative force during the tournament as the Young Falcons won all six of their matches, defeating a number of the continent’s top teams along the way. The attacking midfielder more than held his own against the best that Asia can offer and is now regarded as one of the continent’s hottest young prospects.
In the three knockout clashes against Australia, Japan and South Korea in the final, the teenager displayed a maturity and awareness that belied his tender years and contributed much more than just the four goals he scored.
Pat Janssen, who stood down as Al-Shabab’s boss earlier in 2018, is not surprised after overseeing the teenager’s emergence last year at the home of the six-time Saudi Arabian champions.
“He is a very good player and that was obvious from the moment we saw him in training and he was moved to train with the first team,” Janssen told Arab News.
“He moves on the pitch really well and can make things happen at any second. He is the kind of players that fans love to watch.”
While Al-Ammar has yet to feature this season due to his U-19 commitments, he made 14 league appearances for the Riyadh giants last season, a bold move in a country that has often been slow to give young talent a chance.
“We always wanted to promote young players as much as we could and the head coach at the time was Daniel Carreno,” Janssen added. “He was interested in Turki and was asking about him, and when he got his chance, he took it very well. I am very proud of what he has achieved in the past few weeks but the news is brilliant all round for football in Saudi Arabia.”
Janssen dismissed the suggestion that Al-Ammar should continue his development overseas, pointing to other Saudi Arabian players such as Fahad Al-Muwallad, Salem Al-Dawsari and Yahya Al-Shehri — all three went to Spain in January to spend the rest of the La Liga season on loan with various clubs.
“It was useful experience for those older players to spend time in Spain but for the youngsters, the best thing is to get playing opportunities and that is what Turki got at Al-Shabab. He needs to play,” the Englishman said.
“The Asian Championship shows that it is possible for young players to stay here and become good enough to win titles in Asia.
“Of course it is good to have players overseas in the top leagues to gain experience and grow there but if they stay in Saudi Arabia for a while, they at least can get more playing time and at that age, that is exactly what they need.”
Al-Ammar has promised to keep his talented feet on the ground as much as possible, though was delighted to get the personal award.
“(Being named tournament MVP) gives me extra motivation going forward in my career and to keep working hard,” Al-Ammar said last week. “It is an honor to receive it and great to win the trophy as we worked very hard.”
South Korea coach Chung Jung-young also believes that the player has a bright future ahead.
“Saudi Arabia are a good team with some young players. The tournament MVP is a constant danger. He was excellent in the first half and when we were getting back in the game in the second half, he still caused problems. He has a bright future.”


Australia crush England to reach World Cup semifinals

Updated 25 June 2019
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Australia crush England to reach World Cup semifinals

  • Finch made exactly 100 in a total of 285-7 before England slumped to 221 all out with 32 balls left
  • The recalled Behrendorff took 5-44, while Starc became the leading bowler at the tournament with 19 scalps thanks to a haul of 4-43

LONDON: Australia captain Aaron Finch hit a hundred before left-arm quicks Jason Behrendorff and Mitchell Starc shared nine wickets as the reigning champions thumped England by 64 runs at Lord’s on Tuesday to book their place in the semifinals of the World Cup.
Finch made exactly 100 in a total of 285-7 before England slumped to 221 all out with 32 balls left.
The recalled Behrendorff took 5-44 — his first five-wicket haul in a one-day international — while Starc became the leading bowler at the tournament with 19 scalps thanks to a haul of 4-43.
For England, who entered the showpiece event as the top-ranked side in ODI cricket, this was a second straight defeat after their shock 20-run loss to Sri Lanka.
The host nation, bidding to win a first World Cup title, can still qualify for the semifinals but they are likely to need to beat at least one of India and New Zealand in their remaining two group games.
“There are teams that you have confidence playing against but I have had plenty of low scores against England as well,” said man-of-the-match Finch.
“It was nipping around first thing. We were as tight as we could be and then took advantage of any width.”
England’s reply saw them lose a wicket off just the second ball of their chase, with the struggling James Vince — only playing because Jason Roy was out with a hamstring injury — bowled by a Behrendorff inswinger.
Starc then took two wickets in nine balls.
Test skipper Joe Root was plumb lbw to an inswinger for eight before England captain Eoin Morgan (four) fell into a hooking trap when a top-edge was held safely by Pat Cummins at fine leg.
Australia, who had lost 10 of their previous 11 ODIS against England, were in complete charge with the hosts now 26-3.
England have surged to the top of the ODI rankings on the back of aggressive run-scoring but the worry for Morgan’s men is that too many of their top-order appear to know only one way to bat. Jonny Bairstow, for example, fell next to a careless hook off Behrendorff before Stokes and Jos Buttler (25) repaired some of the damage with a fifth-wicket stand of 71.
Buttler was well caught by Usman Khawaja, running round and staying just inside the deep square leg boundary off Marcus Stoinis.
Stokes defiantly hit Glenn Maxwell for two sixes in three balls but, shortly before completing his fifty, the all-rounder pulled up with a calf injury.
Starc was brought back to take a key wicket and duly obliged with a thunderbolt yorker, his 18th wicket of the tournament, that ended Stokes’s 115-ball innings of 89, including eight fours and two sixes.
Stokes’s dismissal left England 177-6 in the 37th over and effectively ended the contest. Starc ended the match when he dismissed Adil Rashid.
Earlier Finch, dropped on 15, and fellow opener David Warner (53) came through some testing early overs to share a stand of 123 as too many of England’s pacemen, with the exception of Chris Woakes, dropped short.
The skipper’s exit sparked a late flurry of wickets but Australia had enough runs on the board.
Both Warner, the World Cup’s leading run-scorer, and Steve Smith were booed as they entered and exited the field following their recent return from year-long bans for ball-tampering.
Finch went to his century thanks to a misfield by Woakes but next ball he miscued a hook off Jofra Archer and Woakes held the catch at fine leg.
The skipper faced 116 balls, with 11 fours and two sixes in his second century of this World Cup following his 153 against Sri Lanka.