Mohamed Salah willing to ‘sacrifice’ Champions League dream for Premier League glory

Salah came close to winning the Champions League last season when Liverpool reached the final. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2019
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Mohamed Salah willing to ‘sacrifice’ Champions League dream for Premier League glory

  • Egyptian ace aware that Premier League title is what Liverpool fans are most desperate for.
  • Salah key to Reds hopes of beating Bayern Munich in Europe on Wednesday.

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah is willing to put his Champions League ambitions on the back-burner to help the Merseyside club claim their first English league crown in 29 years, the Egyptian forward has said.
Liverpool are second in the Premier League with 73 points, one point behind defending champions Manchester City with eight matches remaining in the season.
Juergen Klopp’s side are also competing for silverware in the Champions League where they visit Bayern Munich on Wednesday for the return leg of their last-16 tie, after the sides played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield last month.
“I’ll be honest with you, the most prestigious competition for me is the Champions League,” Salah said.
“But the dream for the city and the club is the league. So, I’m happy to sacrifice my dream for their dream but if we win both that would great and this is what we are trying to do.”
Salah, who suffered a shoulder injury in last year’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid, later said Liverpool were mentally prepared to take advantage if City lose their way in the home stretch of the domestic season.
“The competition is very tough and we have difficult games left as do they,” the 26-year-old added.
“All you can do is win your games and hopefully they will fail in one so we can win the title. My mind is sharp and there is pressure but I’m strong mentally and we have to keep going.
“We will see what we can do at the end of the season but mentally I am ready for everything.”
After Wednesday’s clash at Bayern, Liverpool return to league action with a trip to 19th-placed Fulham on Sunday.


KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 19 March 2019
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KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”