Saudi Arabia U-23 penalty hero wants to take momentum into AFC Iraq clash

Saudi Arabia scored a last-gasp penalty to claim dramatic draw against Jordan in their opening U23 AFC Championship match. (AP)
Updated 11 January 2018

Saudi Arabia U-23 penalty hero wants to take momentum into AFC Iraq clash

LONDON: Rakan Al-Anaz, the penalty hero from the 2-2 draw with Jordan, wants Saudi Arabia to carry on the momentum they finished the last match with into Saturday’s AFC U-23 Championship clash with Iraq.
The young Green Falcons finished the game with Jordan like a train, scoring twice in the last five minutes, including a match-saving spot-kick from Al-Anaz deep into stoppage time, to rescue a point against Jordan, who had raced into a two-goal lead. Saudi Arabia will now play Iraq on Saturday and Malaysia on Tuesday in a bid to get out of Group C and progress to the quarter-finals.
“In the match against Iraq we will start very strong and determined and we hope to get the victory,” said Al-Anaz to the AFC website. “This result (against Jordan) can’t be considered good for us, the only good result is to win, but we conceded goals from mistakes so the draw is better than nothing. We hope we can make up for this result in the coming matches.”
Al-Anaz, who was one of the stars for Saudi Arabia at the AFC U-19 Championship in Bahrain in 2016, started the game against Jordan on the bench, but the Al-Nassr midfielder believes the strength of this team lies in its depth.
“There is no difference between the starting 11 and the substitutes in our team, everyone is ready,” he said. “The coach insisted on that before the match, and the important thing is to help the team to score and get the results.”
Midfielder Osama Al-Khalaf is confident Daniel Teglia’s team can qualify for the knock-out stages.
“I see a point as better than nothing,” the 21 year-old from Saudi Professional League club Al-Ettifaq told the Saudi Football Federation after the 2-2 draw with Jordan, “The most important thing was the spirit that was present on the pitch and that is what is asked of us. Ahead of us are two matches with Iraq and Malaysia. We can make amends in those games and God willing, we can qualify.”


Turkey defends footballers saluting soldiers

Updated 15 October 2019

Turkey defends footballers saluting soldiers

  • Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu described the controversial goal celebration — in which players were seen as supporting Turkey’s military operation in Syria — as a nice salute
  • France drew 1-1 with Turkey in the Euro 2020 qualifier amid mounting tensions after Paris condemned Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s sports minister voiced support on Tuesday for national team players who saluted the country’s soldiers during their Euro 2020 match with France.
Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu described the controversial goal celebration — in which players were seen as supporting Turkey’s current military operation in Syria — as a “nice salute.”
France drew 1-1 with Turkey in the Euro 2020 qualifier amid mounting tensions after Paris condemned Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.
European football’s ruling body UEFA had already said it would “examine” a military salute given by Turkish players during an earlier match against Albania.
But the sports minister said the controversy was unwarranted, and pointed to the fact that French star Antoine Griezmann had also given a military salute to President Emmanuel Macron in June.
“Those who remained quiet about Griezmann’s military salute are trying to distort our national footballers’ nice salute,” Kasapoglu said in a televised press conference, holding up a picture of Griezmann’s salute.
He said critics were trying to distract from Turkey’s success in staying top of the qualifying group.
“Those who are trying to block out their failure on the pitch should give up on their efforts. The result is clear,” Kasapoglu said.
Kasapoglu also warned UEFA to be “prudent” in its investigation of the salutes.
Turkey’s operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, launched a week ago, has been widely criticized by the international community but has drawn widespread support at home.