Ittihad, Hilal Advance to Next Stage

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Abdulrahman Kabbani, Special to Arab News

Published — Tuesday 4 November 2003

Last Update 4 November 2003 3:00 am

JEDDAH, 4 November 2003 — Ittihad and Hilal of Saudi Arabia advanced to the next round in the Arab League Championship here on Sunday night.

Local favorites Ittihad of Saudi Arabia thumped Ittihad of Syria 2-0 in a match played at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium. This was their second match after they drew goalless in a match played in Syria.

Ittihad started the game in a high profile manner and in the course of time increased their pressure against the visitors, but unfortunately many of their attempts were effectively foiled by the Syrians defense wall.

The first half remained goalless.

But in the second half Al-Hassan Al-Yami turned the tables on the Syrians by striking double. He broke the barrier by scoring the first goal in the 63rd minute and showed the visitors his soccer skill when he again struck in the 90th minute. The rest of the game was just a passing time for the hosts as they tackled the visitors.

In the second game, Hilal also qualified despite 1-1 draw against Al-Jeesh of Syria in their second game at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh. Both teams were tied 2-2 in a game in Syria. But on a better goal average Hilal qualified. After a low first half play, Al-Jeesh got the upper hand when Abbas Rahem netted first for the visitors in the 74th minute. But their joy was short-lived as Ahmad Al-Suwaileh clinched equalizer for Hilal in the 90th minute.

In another development, Ittihad’s management ended the contract of Brazilian player Jelermi who failed to impress the coach and the management with his performance.

Gurpegi Doping Ban Upheld as Saga Continues

Agency adds: In Madrid, Spain’s sports council upheld a two-year ban on Athletic Bilbao midfielder Carlos Gurpegi yesterday after a positive test for nandrolone.

Gurpegi, who has always denied knowingly taking any banned substance, tested positive for 19-norandrosterone, a metabolite of the banned steroid nandrolone, in the first match of the 2002-03 season. The player, now 23, was originally suspended on Feb.15, 2003 while the case was being investigated, but the provisional ban was lifted in April following an appeal by the club.

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