Rijkaard sacked as Saudi football coach

Updated 30 January 2013
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Rijkaard sacked as Saudi football coach

RIYADH: The Saudi Football Federation fired the national team’s Dutch manager Frank Rijkaard on Wednesday following the kingdom's poor performance in last week's 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations in Bahrain.
Federation chairman Ahmed Eid Al-Harbi said the decision to sack Rijkaard came after a vote by a majority of members of the federation.
Al-Harbi said the federation appointed Saudi-Spanish Union football expert Sergio as the first coach and assigned Salman al-Quraini as a supervisor.
Sports analysts had predicted Rijkaard's sacking after Saudi Arabia failed to reach group stage, losing 2-0 to Iraq and 1-0 to Kuwait. It's sole victory was over Yemen, 2-0.
Saudi Arabia signed a three-year deal in July 2011 with Rijkaard after the national team was eliminated from the Asian Cup, capped by a 5-0 defeat by Japan.
He replaced Nassir al-Johar, who was dismissed after that campaign, described by local media as the lowest point in the kingdom's football history after appearing in four World Cups.
The Saudi team failed to make it to the 2010 World Cup and it fell to 92nd in the FIFA world rankings from a high of 23rd in 2004.
Under Rijkaard's stewardship, however, the kingdom's ranking fell down farther to 126th.
Rijkaard’s contract with Saudi Arabia was reportedly worth $9 million, with a penalty clause of more than $4 million in case of dismissal.
But the head of the kingdom’s sports body, Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, who was the head of the football federation when former Barcelona boss Rijkaard was hired in July 2011, has said that he is willing to foot the bill of ending Rijkaard’s three-year contract.
Rijkaard is the second manager to lose his job at the championship after Qatar announced the dismissal of Brazilian coach Paulo Autuori on Tuesday following the team’s elimination in the first round.


Joe Root ton puts England on top against Sri Lanka

Updated 17 November 2018
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Joe Root ton puts England on top against Sri Lanka

KANDY: Captain Joe Root smashed 124 and newcomer Ben Foakes again hit valuable tail end runs to put England in command of the second Test against Sri Lanka on Friday.
England reached 324 for nine — a second innings lead of 278 — when bad light stopped play for the day in Kandy.
Foakes was batting on 51 alongside James Anderson on four.
Spinner Akila Danajanya, whose action is under investigation by the International Cricket Council, claimed six wickets on the turning pitch.
He trapped Root lbw and then bowled Sam Curran for nought with his next ball. Adil Rashid thwarted the hat-trick but soon fell to Dananjaya’s guile for two.
It was his third five wicket haul in just his fifth Test for Dananjaya, who must rush off to Australia after the game for an ICC examination of his bowling.
He however could not stop Root and Foakes swinging the game.
Root reached his 15th Test ton soon after tea, making the sweep and reverse sweep valuable weapons, as he hit 10 fours and two sixes in his 146-ball knock.
Root said he enjoyed making the runs despite the pressure.
“That’s what it should be. You shouldn’t feel pressure like the pressure is too much for you, you should enjoy the occasion and make the most of the opportunity in front of you,” he said after the day’s play.
“The whole group managed to harness that today and make the most of it.”
Root raised his bat to a standing ovation from traveling English fans who also lauded Foakes.
Root made an 82-run seventh wicket stand with Foakes, who reached his fifty with a six off Dilruwan Perera. The hit turned out to be the last ball of the day with dark clouds gathering and thunder heard in the distance.
As he did in his sparkling century on Test debut in the opening game of the series, Foakes mixed caution and aggression to push up the England score.
Every one of England’s top seven batsmen were out attempting a sweep of some description.
Jos Buttler dragged one of Dananjaya’s deliveries onto his stumps while trying to reverse sweep on 34. Moeen Ali was trapped lbw for 10 after failing to connect with an attempted sweep.
“From my point of view, it was almost a safer shot than playing the forward defensive,” said Root.
“With the amount the ball was turning there’s a lot of risk involved in that. At times attack is the best form of defense on a wicket like that.”
Earlier, left-hander Rory Burns registered his maiden Test half-century in just his second match. He was trapped lbw off Malinda Pushpakumara for 59.
Burns then put together 73 runs for the second wicket with Keaton Jennings, who made 26, to steady the innings and help England overcome their 46-run deficit.
“I think the temptation with a deficit like that going into the second innings is to play within your shell and be a bit insular but the guys went out and set the tone at top of the order,” said Root.
“It was really pleasing to see inexperienced guys as Test cricketers really set the benchmark for the rest of the group, a really good platform for us.
“Hopefully we still stretch the lead further and that should be a good chase on this surface.”