SIPG peg back Jeonbuk’s flying start for 1-1 draw

Shanghai SIPG's Wang Shenchao celebrates during their AFC Champions League round of 16 match against Jeonbuk. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2019
0

SIPG peg back Jeonbuk’s flying start for 1-1 draw

SAITAMA: Jeonbuk Motors got off to a flying start in the AFC Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, scoring in the first minute in Shanghai before being pegged back by SIPG in a 1-1 draw.

On a good night for South Korean sides, Ulsan came from a goal down to stun Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1 in Saitama in the earlier first-leg encounter.

Jeonbuk silenced the sea of red-clad supporters in the Shanghai Stadium in the opening seconds when Moon Seon-min stole in to lift Lim Seon-yeong’s through ball over onrushing goalkeeper Yan Junling.

In a bruising encounter between the champions of China and South Korea, Shanghai SIPG’s Brazilian imports Oscar, Hulk and Elkeson created a string of chances, though Jeonbuk carried a potent threat on the break.

Hulk went close twice before the home side deservedly levelled in the 39th minute.

Right wing-back Wang Shenchao found himself in space in the center of the box as he got on the end of Yu Hai’s cross and equalized with a neat header.

Hulk rampaged through in first-half stoppage time with a chance to put SIPG in front after being fed by Elkeson’s header.

But after rounding goalkeeper Song Beom-Keun the angle was too tight and the burly striker’s shot agonizingly hit the post and rebounded to safety.

The second half was more scrappy and Jeonbuk will be the happier of the two sides after claiming a draw and an away goal ahead of the second leg in Jeonju next Wednesday.

Earlier, away goals from Joo Min-kyu and Hwang Il-su gave Ulsan a precious 2-1 win against Urawa Reds to take back to Korea for next week’s second leg.

In a battle of former Asian champions, Urawa dominated in the first half and were rewarded for their efforts when a delightfully chipped ball from Takuya Aoki in the 37th minute was met by Kenyu Sugimoto’s glancing header.

Ulsan had barely threatened till that point, but it took them just five minutes to get back on terms.

A mistake in midfield enabled the lively Lee Keun-ho to burst down the left flank and drive in a cross that was met by a powerful headed finish from Joo.

The goal lifted the visitors and the lively goal provider Lee twice went close to putting Ulsan ahead after the break.

First a rasping volley from the edge of the box flew just wide then a near-post flick found the side netting.

In the 80th minute substitute Hwang ran almost unopposed to the edge of the box before drilling home a left-foot shot for the winner.

Junior Negrao should have made it three shortly after, but somehow cleared the crossbar from close range.


Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

Updated 21 July 2019
0

Refugee swimmer Mardini rising fast after fleeing war

  • Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall
  • Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics under the refugee flag

GWANGJU, South Korea: Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini, who almost drowned at sea fleeing her war-torn country four years ago, heaved a deep sigh after failing to set a personal best at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Representing FINA’s independent athletes team, the 21-year-old looked up at the giant scoreboard and winced at her time of 1min 8.79sec in the 100 meters butterfly heats in South Korea.
“I’m not very happy actually,” Mardini told AFP.
“I had some problems with my shoulder but I’m back in training. I still have the 100m freestyle and I’m looking forward to that.”
Mardini’s time was more than 12 seconds slower than that of reigning champion Sarah Sjostrom and 47th overall, but she has come a long way since risking her life crossing from Izmir in Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in the summer of 2015.
Thirty minutes into that treacherous journey, the motor on their dinghy cut out and the tiny vessel, carrying 20 people rather than the six or seven it was designed for, threatened to capsize.
As the only people who could swim, Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped into the water to push and pull the stricken dinghy for over three hours until they finally reached the shore.
“I arrived in Greece in only jeans and a T-shirt,” said Mardini, who also swims in the 100m freestyle later this week. “Even my shoes were gone.”
Mardini famously competed at the Rio Olympics a year later under the refugee flag.
“In the beginning I refused to be in a refugee team because I was afraid people would think I got the chance because of my story,” said Mardini, who now lives with her family in Berlin.
“I wanted to earn it. But then I realized I had a big opportunity to represent those people — so I took the chance and I never regretted it,” she added.
“Rio was amazing. It was really exciting to see the reaction of people to the team. Now I’m representing millions of displaced people around the world and it really makes me proud.”
It is a far cry from life back in Syria, where rocket strikes would often shake the pool she trained at in Damascus.
“There were bomb attacks sometimes that would crack the windows around the pool,” said Mardini, who has addressed the United Nations general assembly and whose story is set to be told in a Hollywood movie.
“We were scared the whole time.”
Fellow Syrian Ayman Kelzieh was also forced to flee the country before competing at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Returning to Korea five years later, the 26-year-old now owns a fistful of national swim records, including the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly.
“When the war started I had just moved to Damascus and I couldn’t get back home to Aleppo,” said Kelzieh, who now lives on the Thai island of Phuket.
“But even in Damascus bombs sometimes even went off at the swimming pool we trained at,” he added after taking a poolside selfie with his idol, South African star Chad le Clos.
“There were even attacks at the hotel I stayed in — I was lucky.”