Gomis tells Al-Hilal heroes to keep feet on the ground

Al Hilal’s Bafetimbi Gomis, left, fights for the ball with Al-Duhail’s Ahmed Yasser during the AFC champions league Group C match between KSA’s Al Hilal and Qatar’s Al-Duhail. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
0

Gomis tells Al-Hilal heroes to keep feet on the ground

  • It was the Riyadh club’s second straight win in this year’s competition and leaves them top of Group C, three points ahead of the Qatari club
  • Gomis, one of the stars of the show, put the result beyond doubt with a well-taken finish with 10 minutes left at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh

LONDON: Bafetimbi Gomis has called on Al-Hilal not to get ahead of themselves after they beat Al-Duhail 3-1 in the AFC Champions League.
That victory was the Riyadh club’s second straight win in this year’s competition and leaves them top of Group C, three points ahead of the Qatari club and five ahead of UAE champions Al-Ain and Iran outfit Esteghlal F.C.
Al-Duhail’s new signing Shoya Nakajima’s 75th-minute strike had canceled out a first-half Carlos Eduardo goal, but Ali Al-Bulayhi put the hosts ahead again in the 77th minute. Gomis, one of the stars of the show, then put the result beyond doubt with a well-taken finish with 10 minutes left at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.
It was yet another impressive performance from Al-Hilal, the sort of showing that has already made them one of the favorites to go all the way in the AFC Champions League this year.
But keen to keep his teammates’ feet on the ground, the Riyadh giants’ big summer signing has warned them to focus on the job at hand and take it one match at a time.
“It was a team job (against Al-Duhail),” the French striker said. “The staff, the players, the fans — together we’re stronger. Keep our focus lads.” He added: “Thanks to the fans for your support.”
Al-Hilal’s form in the continental competition this year is in stark contrast to 12 months ago when, having reached the final of Asia’s premier club competition just months before, they fell at the first hurdle, exiting at the group stage.
What has made the performances all the more impressive is that they have beaten both UAE and Qatar champions without four key men. Omar Abdulrahman, Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed are all currently out of action with injuries.
Al-Hilal’s next continental clash is away to Esteghlal on April 8.


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

Updated 19 March 2019
0

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.”