Al-Hilal get AFC Champions League campaign off to winning start at Al-Ain as Al-Ahli shock Al-Saad

The Riyadh giants celebrate the 1-0 win over UAE powerhouses Al-AIn. (Al-Hilal)
Updated 05 March 2019

Al-Hilal get AFC Champions League campaign off to winning start at Al-Ain as Al-Ahli shock Al-Saad

  • Riyadh giants impress in the UAE to get campaign off to great start.
  • Al-Ahli shock Qatar club Al-Saad as Al-Somah bags a brace.

LONDON: Mohammad Al-Shalhoub was the unlikely hero as Al-Hilal got their AFC Champions League campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory at Al-Ain.
The Group C clash pitted two of the heavyweights of Middle East football against each other with Al-Hilal desperate to get their continental campaign off to a good start, having exited at the group stage this time last year.
But there was to be no early slip-up this time as the Riyadh giants snatched a well-earned win thanks to veteran Al-Shalhoub’s 65th-minute strike.
Al-Hilal were on top for most of the match and the pressure finally told when the club captain got on the end of a Mohamed Al-Buraik cross to fire into the top corner and give the visitors an advantage they would not relinquish.
Al-Ain’s woes were compounded in the final minute as captain Ismail Ahmed was shown the red card — a moment that summed up a miserable night for the UAE champions.
From the start Al-Hilal looked the brighter and more energetic and nearly grabbed the lead as early as the third minute when Carlos Eduardo pounced on a loose ball inside the box, forcing Khaled Eisa into making a good save.
Al-Ain’s one chance of the first-half came from a set piece with Japanese international Tsukasa Shiotani's free-kick narrowly off target in the fifth minute.
It was the Saudi Arabian champions who dominated possession and they finally made the pressure tell when Al-Shalhoub got the winner to ease Al-Hilal nerves.
There was little doubting the win came as a relief to a side still haunted by the calamitous campaign last year.
“A key win in the ACL race: 3 points in the bag. (It was a) good performance of the team in Al-Ain,” French striker Bafetimbi Gomis tweeted.
Elsewhere, Al-Ahli recorded a shock 2-0 win over Qatar’s Al-Saad. A brace from Omar Al-Somah was enough to beat the Qatar side who reached the Westside final last year
The Syrian striker was on fire and once again proved that when on form there are few in Asia that can match him in front of goal.

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019

From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.