Golf in DUBAi lauds Morocco’s Haddioui for Olympics qualification

Maha Haddioui
Updated 20 July 2016
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Golf in DUBAi lauds Morocco’s Haddioui for Olympics qualification

DUBAI: Promoters and organizers of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters have hailed Morocco’s trailblazing golfer Maha Haddioui, who has qualified for the Rio Olympics, calling it a ground-breaking achievement for women’s golf in the Arab world.
“Being the only Arab in the 60-player field, Maha’s qualification for the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza will leave a lasting legacy for the future generations, but her winning a medal there could well change the way the game is played in the region,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, vice chairman and CEO of golf in DUBAi.
“Maha has emerged as role model for aspiring female golfers not only Morocco, but in the entire region.
“Morocco is leading the way when it comes to professional golf in the Arab world, and it’s definitely important for people from other countries to see how their golfers are shaping up.
“The rising standard of the game in the country is certainly a tribute to years of investment in golf from the royal family,” he said, adding: “Maha is optimistic and so is the Arab world.”
The Moroccan ace will carry the hopes and expectations of the entire Arab world when she tees it up at next month’s Summer Olympics where the game is making its long-awaited return after 112 years.
“My ultimate goal is to be the top player in the world, but playing the Olympics and getting a medal is the ultimate dream,” said Haddioui, who believes the experience of regularly playing in world-class events like the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters and the Lalla Meryem Cup would come in handy on the Olympic golf course.
“I know it is going to be incredibly challenging to win a medal, but I’m going to give it my all. I am upbeat and focused as I am quite used to the high pressure that comes with playing in big tournaments,” said the Moroccan, who is also the only Arab woman to earn full playing status on the Ladies European Tour.
“But, it would be absolutely amazing representing Morocco and being part of the African contingent at the Olympic Games. I am looking forwards to the honor,” she added.
“We have had some great Moroccan athletes who have made the country proud, and my dream is to follow in their footsteps," said the 27-year-old from Agadir.
With 22 medals — 18 in athletics and three in boxing — Morocco enjoys a strong a strong pedigree of world-class athletes led by Hicham El Guerrouj, who boasts two gold and one silver medals.
Saïd Aouita, with one gold and one silver, is the other multiple medal winner while Nawal El Moutawakel created history at the 1984 Los Angeles, becoming the first Arab woman to win a gold medal, a feat she achieved in 400-meter hurdles.
“It’s a little girl’s dream, even if you are 27, you still have a dream to win a medal. It’s something really strong in my heart. If that happens it will sort of inspire other women in the Arab world to take up golf,” said the US-educated professional, who is supported by Trophée Hassan II Association (ATH).
Haddioui spent four years at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, to fine tune her talents before turning professional in 2011. She was a four-time All American scholar and NCGA First-team All American, graduating with a Masters in Accounting and International Business.
Keeping a quiet mind is her mantra for what she called an important week for her. “As soon as I am set up on the ball, nothing else matters. Once I have made my decision, I just go for it. That’s it, I don’t think about anything.”
Elaborating on her positive mindset, she said: “I have a set routine with myself that involves a lot of thinking of a happy place, a happy smell and a happy sound. It’s like a trigger before I play every golf shot.

“It has worked for me in practice rounds and, hopefully, it will work during the competition as well. Let’s see.”

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UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni admits performances have been poor ahead of Socceroos clash

Updated 22 January 2019
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UAE boss Alberto Zaccheroni admits performances have been poor ahead of Socceroos clash

  • UAE boss still under spotlight despite side reaching lasts-eight, where they will face Australia.
  • Hosts struggled to beat Kyrgyzstan in second-round after underwhelming group stage.

LONDON: Having guided your team to the last eight of the Asian Cup, it must seem strange to find yourself on the defensive. But that is the situation Alberto Zaccheroni, right, faced after leading the UAE to a second-round win over Kyrgyzstan.
The hosts were strongly fancied to see off the Central Asians in their knockout clash in Abu Dhabi, but were taken to extra time and the likely drama of penalties when Ahmed Khalil grabbed the winner in the 103rd minute.
The performance added to the impression that the Whites have made the quarterfinals through luck rather than ability. The team has looked far from impressive during the group stage and anything but possible winners overall.
They now face reigning champions Australia — and even the UAE boss admitted they will have their work cut out unless they improve. “I admit that against (Kyrgyzstan) we seemed to struggle with long ball and crosses, and we also had one or two chances to score and secure the game, but we didn’t convert those opportunities,” the Italian former coach of AC Milan and Juventus said.
“We will try to correct all the things that we believe were less positive between now and the quarterfinals. We now have three days to assess our squad and their injuries before we face a strong Australia team.”
Usually when a team reaches the later stages of a big tournament, players and coaches ignore the performance and pretend all is grand — generally with an emphatic declaration that they will win the title.
Zaccheroni’s post-match reaction was anything but bombastic, however. That is not only a pleasant change but also an appreciation that the UAE have been anything but impressive in their march — in fact, more a slow plod — to the last eight.
This is Kyrgyzstan’s first Asian Cup, and they are far from world-beaters. Playing at home with hopes of lighting the trophy on Feb. 1, the UAE should have easily beaten the Central Asian outfit.
Goals from Mirlan Murzaev and a dramatic late equalizer from substitute Tursunali Rustamov canceled out strikes by Khamis Esmaeel and Ali Mabkhouts. On top of that they hit the bar and the post. It took a controversial Khalil spot-kick to win the match, one that left the Central Asians with a bitter taste in the mouth.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee,” Kyrgyzstan coach Aleksandr Krestinin said.
“We leave the tournament with a lot of regrets — we deserved more. It’s our first Asian Cup, but I’m sure it won’t be our last and we will come back stronger.”
There is a sense the UAE cannot play much worse than they have so far, and the hope will be that they can find a good performance in the quarterfinal against the Socceroos. If they are to shock the reigning champions, they will need Khalil to find his scoring boots again.
“Ahmed Khalil is a very good striker, he is one of the best in Asia,” Zaccheroni said of the 2015 AFC Player of the Year.
“When I took over the UAE team (at the end of 2017), he was injured and had not trained for a long time. He has also been injured many times recently and did not play often for his club.
“Nevertheless, he is a very good player, and I have to say that I rely on him a lot. He does so much for the team.”