Oman to join European Challenge Tour in 2013

Updated 08 November 2012
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Oman to join European Challenge Tour in 2013

Oman will make its debut on the European Challenge Tour when the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic is staged for the first time at Almouj Golf, The Wave Muscat, from Oct. 24-27 in 2013.
As promoted by National Bank of Oman, the tournament will be the first Challenge Tour event of its kind not only in Oman but also in the GCC and will offer a total prize-money of $300,000.
With its place on the 2013 calendar (confirmed as the last event on the calendar before the season-end Challenge Tour Grand Final) the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic is set to attract a powerful field of 84 professionals with a further 30 invites available to the title sponsors, including 10 for low handicap amateurs.
From the professional invites to the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic, five will be allocated to other Challenge Tour events in return for amateur invites on a reciprocal basis, allowing Arab nationals, subject to handicap requirements, to compete in other Challenge Tour events during the season. This will provide great opportunities for golfers throughout the Arab world to get international experience wherever the Challenge Tour goes.
“As title sponsor for the next three years, National Bank of Oman looks forward to welcoming the players and officials for the first ever Challenge Tour event in Oman,” said NBO CEO Salaam Al Shaksy at the press conference held yesterday at the Greg Norman-designed Almouj Golf, The Wave Muscat.
He further added, “At National Bank of Oman, we are proud of the steps Oman has taken with the launch of Almouj Golf — The Wave Muscat, the first Professional Golf Association (PGA) championship course in the sultanate. With the support of the Oman Golf Committee General Secretary Sayyid Arqam Al Busaidi, Oman will become the 45th country to be visited by the European Challenge Tour.
“The government, under the wise guidance of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, continues to strive to strengthen the country’s position as an international tourism destination and at National Bank of Oman we believe in playing our part in that vision.
“Over the coming months we will work hand in hand with our colleagues in the Ministry of Sports Affairs and Ministry of Tourism to give the sultanate an event that will stand out as one of the best and most professional on the Challenge Tour calendar.”
The presence of co-sponsors and supporters will be hugely important in the overall success of the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic. I look forward to inviting and meeting corporates, private organizations and international brands who wish to play their part in projecting a sophisticated and professional image to the world.”
Alain de Soultrait, director of the European Challenge Tour, said the players and officials alike, were excited at the prospect of staging an event in the GCC for the first time in the Challenge Tour’s 26-year history.
“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing the Challenge Tour to Oman and these are exciting times for us as it is the first time we have ever visited this part of the world,” he said. As the penultimate event of the 2013 Challenge Tour season, the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will be a crucial tournament for our players and even more so thanks to the significant prize fund.”
In 2012 the Challenge Tour played 26 events in 18 countries for a combined prize fund of over $7.1 million, while only four of those events offered a greater prize fund than the new tournament – and with the event also providing places in the field to amateurs from throughout the region. The 2013 National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will offer the best Arab golfers an opportunity to experience playing alongside future European Tour stars.
“We thank National Bank of Oman, its board of directors, and senior management for offering the Challenge Tour this unique opportunity. We also believe Oman’s national players will take full benefit of the possibility of playing with the Challenge Tour players,” added de Soultrait.
Launched in 1986, the Challenge Tour has helped launch the careers of golfing superstars such as Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen, while South Africa’s Branden Grace — now ranked fifth in The Race to Dubai — was playing on the Challenge Tour just 12 months ago.
With a high quality field, worldwide TV exposure and the opportunity for the region’s budding amateurs and professionals to get Challenge Tour experience, the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic will be on one of the most prominent sporting occasions on the sultanate’s calendar for the next three years.
Among the sponsorship benefits available will be the pre-tournament Pro-Am, corporate hospitality, TV exposure through on-course branding and other associated activities such as golf clinics by Challenge Tour stars.


Heart and courage needed as Liverpool and Roma prepare for Champions League semifinal

Updated 23 April 2018
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Heart and courage needed as Liverpool and Roma prepare for Champions League semifinal

  • Both sides shocked more-fancied opposition to reach last four.
  • Tremendous atmosphere expected in first leg at Anfield.

If football is about guts and glory, about matches that linger in the mind long after the final whistle has blown, the Champions League fulfils a curious role. On the one hand it is both symbol and agent of much that is wrong in modern football, the corporate culture, the ludicrous inequality of resources that have rendered many domestic leagues processions. But on the other it does offer more chances for those immortal nights than any other competition — and perhaps particularly so when the teams involved are Liverpool and Roma.
Roma have not won Serie A since 2001; Liverpool have not won the English top flight since 1990. These are not sides who will take success for granted. Whatever happens in the remainder of this season, fans of both teams will remember their quarterfinals with fondness: Liverpool for the way their side twice beat the runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City, a 20-minute blast in the first-half of the first leg in which they scored three times proving decisive; and Roma for their remarkable comeback from 4-1 down after the first leg to go through on away goals.
Roma again have the second leg at home, where they are yet to concede in the Champions League this season, having shut out sides of the calibre of not only Barcelona but also Chelsea and Atletico Madrid. That is, theoretically, an advantage but equally it is hard to conceive of this Liverpool side failing to score anywhere, which in turn means that Roma probably need a goal at Anfield. Liverpool themselves, for all their reputation for defensive fallibility, have kept clean sheets in each of their last four home Champions League games, and have generally been much improved at the back since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January.
That development is part of an overall sense of progress at Liverpool. In that regard, Jurgen Klopp is in a similar position to Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham. It is evident that there has been an improvement in each year he has been at the club but there is a growing sense that it would be nice for that to be validated by a trophy. And if that trophy can be the Champions League, so much the better.
Perhaps there are still concerns that the midfield does not offer the central defenders quite the protection it could, particularly when the full-backs are as attacking as they are, but Liverpool now have options in that area — and will probably perm three from Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum — and have a unit that is quick, powerful and combative.
Given how Juventus wilted in the last 16 against Tottenham’s press, that physical advantage Premier League teams perhaps have over Italian sides, could be a major factor — particularly given the likelihood that Roma will start with the 34-year-old Daniele De Rossi as a fairly static playmaker behind Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan.
Against Barcelona, Eusebio Di Francesco opted for a back three for only the second time this season. That was probably a specific ploy to overman Barca’s 4-4-2 in the center. A return to the more familiar 4-3-3 seems likely here but one of the beauties of games at this stage, particularly in cauldrons like Anfield and the Olimpico, is that at least as important as the tactics are more visceral factors, like heart and courage.

KEY CLASH

MOHAMED SALAH v FEDERICO FAZIO

The first question any opposition manager has to answer when facing Liverpool is how to deal with Mohamed Salah who has scored 41 goals this season, cutting from the right into the space created when Roberto Firmino drops deep. One way to counter him might be to use a right-footed left-back to deal with those incursions inside, much as Rafa Benitez once switched Alvaro Arbeloa to the ‘wrong’ flank to deal with Lionel Messi. More likely here, though, is that the left-sided center-back Federico Fazio will be asked to guard against him, even if that means stepping out from the back-line. That, in turn, increases the defensive responsibility on Daniele De Rossi. There may even be a case for bringing in Juan Jesus, who did such a good job against Messi, either instead of Fazio or at left-back in place of the injury doubt Aleksandar Kolarov.