Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab land Romania international

Constantin Budescu has signed a three-year contract with Al-Shabab. (AFP)
Updated 02 July 2018

Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab land Romania international

  • Constantin Budescu has signed a three-year contract
  • The forward was named Romanian Player of the Year last year

LONDON: The Romanian revolution at Al-Shabab has been given a boost with the Riyadh club announcing the signing of national team forward Constantin Budescu.

Budescu, 29, has signed a three-year contract for a reported fee of €2.5 million ($2.9 million) and joins countrymen Marius Sumudica and Valerica Gaman at the King Fahd Stadium. Sumudica has been hired as manager to replace Jose Daniel Carreno, while Gaman, a teammate of Budescu at FC Steaua București last season, has been recruited to play at the back. 

Romanian coaches Cristian Petre and Gabriel Margarit have also been hired as assistants to Sumudica. Bebe Barbulescu will be the fitness coach, while Radu Sardescu will train the goalkeepers.

Sumudica quickly got his backroom staff in place and now is shaping his squad. He no doubt recommended to the Al-Shabab board that they sign Budescu as he worked with the player at Astra Giurgiu last year and knows him well. 

Budescu will add punch to an Al-Shabab attack that misfired last season. In finishing 10th — four places down on the previous year — the team scored fewer goals than second-bottom Al-Raed and failed to boast anyone in the top-15 goal-scorers in the league.

Winning the last of his 11 international caps against Finland last month, Budescu is known for his creativity and is something of a free-kick specialist, so he will add goals and assists to Al-Shabab’s play. His goal average for his country is one in two games, and he has scored wherever he has been, including 43 in 115 games for Astra Giurgiu.

Budescu was named Romanian Footballer of the Year last year and is Al-Shabab’s third summer signing, following on from Gaman and Euller Silva, the Brazil under 20 international left-back.

Venus Williams crashes out of Wuhan Open

Updated 5 min 26 sec ago

Venus Williams crashes out of Wuhan Open

  • Former top tennis player Venus Williams is a 2015 Wuhan champion and now 59th in the world rankings
WUHAN, China: Venus Williams’ first visit to Asia since 2017 was cut short as she crashed out of the Wuhan Open first round on Sunday 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) to fellow American Danielle Collins.
The 39-year-old Williams, a 2015 Wuhan champion now 59th in the world rankings, squandered a lead in the first set before eventually losing to Collins, who recorded just the second match win of her career on Chinese soil.
The 35th-ranked Collins rallied back from 3-5 down in the opening set, winning a whopping nine games in a row to go up 7-5, 5-0.
Williams, a wildcard at Wuhan this year, finally stopped the bleeding, holding the serve to interrupt her opponent’s momentum.
It was the start of a surprising five-game run from Williams, who saved two match points along the way as she drew level at 5-5.
In the decider, Williams got the first mini-break but it was Collins who eventually created a 6-4 gap, converting with an ace on her fourth match point to move into the second round.
It was Collins’ second triumph over Williams, who had also stumbled against the 25-year-old during the Miami Open last year.
“This is my first tournament here in Asia, I was just happy to come out with a win, said Collins, who next takes on defending champion and ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Meanwhile, 2017 Wuhan runner-up Ashleigh Barty is making sure she has enough left in the tank for a busy closing stretch of the season, including her singles debut at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen and a highly-anticipated Fed Cup final between Australia and France in Perth.
Barty is top seed at Wuhan and faces a stiff challenge in the fight for the year-end number one ranking from the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka.
The 23-year-old Australian is first-ranked this week and would like to finish the year on top, but admitted that she has other priorities.
“I think it’s a target without being a target,” Barty told reporters.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where it’s a possibility. I plan my schedule, the last six months of this year, well in advance. I think I’m not going to change it to try and chase it,” she added.
“If it happens, it happens.”
Barty will open her Wuhan campaign against either Russian Daria Kasatkina or Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.