Broken leg forces defending champion Price out of Dakar

Peugeot's pilot Stephane Peterhansel and co-pilot Jean Paul Cottret compete during the Dakar Rally between San Miguel de Tucuman and San Salvador de Jujuy, in Argentina. (AFP)
Updated 05 January 2017

Broken leg forces defending champion Price out of Dakar

TUPIZA, Bolivia: Defending motorcycle champion Toby Price of Australia was forced out of the Dakar Rally on Thursday after breaking his left leg in a fall, race officials said.
Price suffered the injury when he tumbled off his KTM motorbike after 371km of the fourth stage from San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina to Tupiza in Bolivia as the 9,000km race climbed into the dizzying altitudes of the Andes.
Earlier in the day, Qatari two-time auto winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was also forced to pull out, his Toyota team said.
The 46-year-old, the 2011 and 2015 champion, did not start Thursday’s stage after losing the wheel of his car during the previous day’s special, leaving him down in 25th in the overall standings overnight.
Meanwhile, defending champion Stephane Peterhansel led a Peugeot sweep of the top-three finishing spots on the third stage of the Dakar Rally on Wednesday with teammate Sebastien Loeb narrowly retaining the overall lead.
Peterhansel, 51, seeking a 13th career triumph in the gruelling 9,000km endurance event, finished the San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy stage in Argentina in 4 hours 18 min 17 sec.
Carlos Sainz, the 2010 champion, was second, coming home 1 min 54 sec behind the Frenchman Peterhansel. Third was nine-time world rally champion Loeb at 3 min 8 sec off the lead.
Loeb stays in the overall lead with a paper-thin 0.42sec advantage over Sainz and a 4.18sec gap on Peterhansel.
“It’s a really good day for Peugeot. We’ve lost, not completely but probably, two rivals in Nasser Al Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers, so it’s a little bit clearer at the front of the race,” said Peterhansel, who had struggled in the first two stages, finishing seventh and 12th.
Wednesday’s stage was split into two sections with the second part over a 124km timed run seeing the competitors race at altitude hitting 5,000m for the first time in the 2017 event.
However, it was a test too far for Toyota, who are seen as Peugeot’s major rivals for the title.


When Saudi Arabia dreamed of a World Cup miracle

Updated 07 April 2020

When Saudi Arabia dreamed of a World Cup miracle

  • A heroic battle against Sweden at USA 94 remain’s the nation’s best performance at the World Cup
  • Some clever substitutions in extra time nearly clinched it for the Saudis

DUBAI: For three minutes, Saudi Arabia’s footballers and supporters were allowed to dream of a miracle.

In the almost unbearable heat of the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, a 2-0 deficit to Sweden had just been halved and a first ever World Cup participation looked as though it might, just might, be prolonged a little bit longer. Even if it was just for 30 minutes of extra time.

But only five minutes of the 1994 World Cup round of 16 clash against the Scandinavians were left, and players from both teams were on their last legs. 

Saudi Arabia’s World Cup odyssey was already a success, having progressed from an incredibly tough group that included the Netherlands, Belgium and Morocco. What’s more, thanks to Saeed Al Owairan’s stunning solo winner against the Belgians, they had already given the tournament one of its most iconic moments.

No doubt, the emotion, not to mention physical effort, of arguably the greatest day in Saudi football history had left the players drained. Sweden, who had an extra day’s rest, had themselves just come off a 1-1 draw with tournament favorites Brazil.

But here time was running out.

Jorge Solari’s team had given themselves a mountain to climb by going down to an early goal by Martin Dhahlin, one of Sweden’s players of the tournament, when he beat a static Saudi defense to head firmly past Mohamed Al-Deayea.

But by now, this was a Saudi team that was ready to go toe to toe with some of the world’s best teams, so there was no immediate cause to panic. They just needed to stay in the game and grab their chance when it came. This they managed to do admirably until half time. The Swedes may have had a slight edge, but it remained a finely-balanced tie as the players got a well-deserved break.

For the sake of the global broadcasting timings, matches at USA 94 were often played in the middle of the day, in extremely high temperatures and with the sun directly overhead. This was one of those matches and it often showed.

Any assumption that the conditions would favor the Saudi players were counterbalanced by the fact that this was a fitter, more experienced Swedish team well acquainted with conditions of international summer tournaments.

And they displayed that superiority by doubling their lead just six minutes into the second half. This time it was Kennet Andersson, another of the competition’s standout players, who scored from outside the box and celebrated in what was becoming a very distinctive fashion.

The game looked up for the Saudis. Two goals down in these harsh conditions looked one hurdle too far.

But Argentine coach Scolari still had a couple of cards to play. Just a few minutes after Sweden’s second goal, he boldly replaced captain Mohamed Al-Jawad with Fahad Al-Ghesheyan, a defensive player for an attacker. On 63 minutes, he made his final move, bringing on Khalid Al-Muwallid for the tiring Fahad Al-Bishi. Both substitutions would prove inspired, in particular the first one.

With nothing to lose, the Saudi’s decided to give it one last herculean effort to turn the match around, to go for broke. And it nearly worked.

The match was heading into its last five official minutes when Al-Ghesheyan scored a goal which, in its own way, was just as stunning as Al-Owairan’s effort against Belgium four days earlier.

From the halfway line, Sami Al-Jaber played a sensational left-footed pass into the path of Al-Ghesheyan, who had found a few yards of space on the right wing. Still, there looked no immediate danger to the Swedish defense.

The substitute, clearly fresher than most around him, had other ideas. With one move he cut back onto his left foot inside the retreating Patrik Andersson before releasing a ferocious finish into the roof of Swedish goalkeeper Ravelli’s goal.

With 85 minutes on the clock, it was 2-1, and the miracle was on. The Saudis at long last had the belief that was lacking in earlier part of the match. And the momentum.

For three minutes that dream soared. But there would be no fairytale end to this story.

Kennet Anderssen, in cold-blooded style, delivered the decisive blow with a fine volley on 88 minutes from outside the six-yard box. There would be no coming back from that for the Saudis.

A few minutes later, the final whistle confirmed Sweden’s progress to the quarter-finals - where they would go on to beat Bulgaria on penalties - and brought curtain down on Saudi Arabia’s first ever participation at the World Cup.

USA ‘94 was a landmark tournament for the Saudis in more ways than one, with their qualification to the second round only the second ever achieved by team from then Asian Football Federation. It was also the second time by an Arab team, after Morocco in 1986.

And it set the bar for brighter future for the Kingdom’s national team.

Saudi Arabia would go on to qualify to the next three World Cups; France ‘98, Korea and Japan 2002, and Germany 2006, but with less impressive results. After an absence of 12 years, Saudi returned to the World Cup in France two years ago, where they exited the tournament in the group stages again.

Those heady days at USA ‘94, and that match against Sweden, remain the furthest that Saudi Arabia has progressed in the World Cup to this day.

Back home the team was received as heroes, with names like Al-Jaber, Al-Ghesheyan, Al-Owairan, Al-Deayea, Al-Jawad, group stage hero Fuad Anwar and the rest immortalized as the nation’s first Golden Generation of footballers.

Others would follow in their footsteps with distinction in the following two and half decades. But none would reach their heights.