Jordan tame Syria to reach Asian Cup knockouts

Jordan’s Tareq Khattab celebrates scoring their second goal against Syria with Yousef Al-Rawashdeh and Khalil Bani Ateyah. (Reuters)
Updated 10 January 2019
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Jordan tame Syria to reach Asian Cup knockouts

  • First-half goals from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman and Tareq Khattab gave Jordan a maximum six points in Group B
  • Vital Borkelmans’ team, who stunned defending champions Australia in their first game, advanced to the last 16

AL-AIN, United Arab Emirates: Jordan won a bruising derby with Syria 2-0 to become the first team to reach the Asian Cup knockout stages on Thursday, while talisman Chanathip “Messi Jay” Songkrasin hauled crisis-hit Thailand back on track.
In a rowdy atmosphere at a packed Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, first-half goals from Mousa Mohammad Suleiman and Tareq Khattab gave Jordan a maximum six points in Group B with one game to go against Palestine.
Vital Borkelmans’ team, who stunned defending champions Australia in their first game, could soon be joined in the last 16 by surprise package India, who face hosts UAE later in Group A.
“We know where we are coming from — from very low. And we changed a lot of things,” said Borkelmans, a former Belgium assistant coach who joined Jordan last year.
“Before, nobody believed in these players but now at this moment I think all the media and the Jordan people believe that they have a good team,” he added.
At a raucous Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, Jordan slowly asserted dominance and could have scored when Suleiman’s mazy run prised open Syria’s defense, but Yousef Rawshdeh’s shot sailed over.
But on 26 minutes, after a break down the left, the two combined again when Suleiman stabbed home Rawshdeh’s shot from close range, triggering deafening celebrations.
Tareq Khattab doubled Jordan’s lead two minutes from half-time, when he bundled past Syrian captain Omar Al-Soma to nod in a corner in at the near post.
Syria’s Omar Khrbin came close twice after the break, once when his free header cleared the bar and again when he unleashed a shot which went just wide.
Tempers flared when Jehad Al-Baour pulled back Suleiman during a break and a shoving match developed on the touchline, egged on by the crowd.
Saeed Al-Murjan’s lunge to get on the end of a free kick was somehow kept out by Syrian ‘keeper Ibrahim Alma but the job was already done for Jordan, who celebrated joyously with their fans at the final whistle.
Earlier, bleach-blond Chanathip fired Thailand to only the second Asian Cup win in their history as they beat Bahrain 1-0 to reignite their campaign in Group A.
The Consadole Sapporo midfielder’s second-half strike was enough for the Thais, who sacked their coach Milovan Rajevac after opening with a shock 4-1 loss to India.
Thailand had no shots on target as Bahrain controlled the first half, with Mohamed Jasim Marhoon and Sayed Dhiya Saeed coming closest as they forced goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom into a sharp double save.
But Chanathip, whose fans compare him to Lionel Messi, seized victory for the War Elephants near the hour-mark with a superbly struck first-time shot that rocketed past Sayed Shubbar Alawi in the Bahrain goal.


Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Updated 18 June 2019
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Tazkarti ticketing platform draws criticism in Egypt ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

  • Tazkarti will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament

CAIRO: Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host country Egypt has launched an online ticketing platform called Tazkarti, which will be the sole source of tickets for the tournament, which begins June 22.

Its aim is to combat ticket touts and black market sales for the continent’s biggest football tournament, and to ensure that ticket prices remain fixed at the price decided by the AFCON organizing committee. It is also a measure of the steps Egypt is taking to ensure that the tournament passes peacefully. 

Football stadiums have been almost entirely empty since 2011 because of security issues after long-time President Hosni Mubarak stepped down following national protests in which football fans played a major role, resulting in violent, often lethal, clashes with police and between rival fans.

In 2012, Port Said stadium witnessed a riot that left 72 Al-Ahly supporters dead after a pitch invasion by Masri supporters at the end of a Premier League game. In 2015, 19 Zamalek fans were killed and 20 injured when police attempted to disperse large crowds making their way into a Cairo stadium to attend a Premier League game. 

Those were just two of several incidents that meant authorities imposed a ban on people attending football matches or severely restricted the number of people that could do so.

Every AFCON ticket purchased via Tazkarti will be scanned at the stadium to ensure it matches the holder’s “Fan ID.” If it does not, the holder will not be allowed into the ground.

Tickets for matches featuring the Egyptian national team range from 200 to 2,500 Egyptian pounds ($12-$150), while other matches range from 100 to 500 Egyptian pounds ($6 to $30).

While those prices might sound affordable to outsiders, in a country where a doctor earns around $90 to $179 per month, many have found themselves priced out of the tournament already.

“I am a married dentist with three kids. If I want to attend a match with my family, I would have to pay 1,000 pounds ($60), (not including) transportation and snacks,” Dr. M. Sheta, who lives in Damietta, told Arab News.

“To book a cinema ticket nowadays ranges between 70 and 100 pounds and a good meal costs 100 pounds minimum. If I can afford that, then I can afford AFCON tickets,” said a housewife in Mansoura, who asked to remain anonymous.

Plenty of young Egyptians took to social media to express their displeasure with the ticket prices.

“This is a clear message that middle-class Egyptians are not welcome,” said Ahmed Zahran.

“I would rather pay a total of 10 pounds at any coffee shop and watch the matches there,” said Ahmed El-Tlabanty.

Some fans believe that the prices have been set high to discourage Ultras (the most passionate football fans) from attending.

An administrator of the “Ultras Ahlawy” Facebook group, while stressing that he hoped supporters “have fun watching AFCON,” asked Arab News: “Why would I pay 200 pounds to watch a match? I do not (make hundreds of pounds).”

Aside from issues with the high prices, people have also been widely critical of the technical performance of the new ticketing platform, which has been under pressure from high demand for Fan IDs.

“You guys are so disrespectful and unprofessional. I’ve been trying to reach out for more than two weeks and no one is answering — not on messenger nor the hotline. You made the whole championship experience the worst,” wrote Fatma El-Dardiry. “I called your customer service at least five times, placed three complaints and texted you on Facebook more than once. Now, the tickets of cat 1 and 2 for the opening match have already sold out.”