Arsenal drawn with Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League, Manchester United head to Kazakhstan

General view of the trophy before the UEFA Europa League draw. (Reuters)
Updated 31 August 2019

Arsenal drawn with Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League, Manchester United head to Kazakhstan

MONACO: Last season’s runners-up Arsenal were placed in the same section as Eintracht Frankfurt in the draw for the Europa League group stage in Monaco on Friday, while Manchester United face a long trip to Kazakhstan.
Unai Emery’s Arsenal side lost the final in Baku to Chelsea, who had already eliminated Eintracht on penalties in the last four.
Arsenal will kick off away in Frankfurt on September 19.
Ten-time Belgian champions Standard Liege and Portugal’s Vitoria Guimaraes also in Group F.
United, Europa League winners in 2017, will face Astana of Kazakhstan as well as Partizan Belgrade and former finalists AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands in Group L.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be at home to Astana in their first game. They will make the 12,000-kilometer round trip to face the Kazakh champions, who were knocked out of the Champions League in the first qualifying round, on November 28.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, the third English team in the draw, will take on Turkish side Besiktas in Group K.
In their first European campaign since 1980, Wolves have already come through three ties just to reach the group stage. They beat Torino 5-3 on aggregate in the play-offs.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team will also face Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia and Portuguese club Braga, who will be their first opponents, at Molineux.
The draw was far less kind to the two Scottish representatives.
Scottish champions Celtic meet Italian Cup holders Lazio and French Cup holders Rennes in Group E as well as CFR Cluj, the Romanian side to whom they lost in Champions League qualifying.
Celtic were in the same group as Rennes in the 2011-12 Europa League and took four points against the French club. The teams meet in France on September 19.
“It’s a great draw. There’s a couple of glamor games there and a chance to maybe exact some sort of retribution on Cluj as well, so we’re delighted to be in there and delighted with the group,” said Celtic boss Neil Lennon.
Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will take on former European Cup winners Porto and Feyenoord as well as Swiss champions Young Boys in Group G.
Rangers reached the group stage for the second season running after edging out Legia Warsaw in the play-off round. Their first game will be at home to Jaap Stam’s Feyenoord.
“We know we are the underdogs in the group but we want to go and surprise a few people, that’s what we will try and do. We will do everything we can to try and get out the group,” said Gerrard.
All opening group games will be played on September 19 with the last games on December 12. The final will be held in the Polish city of Gdansk on May 27, 2020.


Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

Updated 19 February 2020

Runners step back in time on AlUla’s historic trails

  • Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands

ALULA: More than 260 athletes from around the world took part in the recent EcoTrail AlUla, a multi-track running race through the dramatic landscapes of AlUla in Saudi Arabia’s northwest.
Top-ranked athletes came from Saudi Arabia, the US and the Netherlands. The race was staged as part of the second season of the Winter at Tantora festival, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla to promote the historic site as an exceptional tourist destination for heritage, arts, culture and sports.

Events took place on three different courses — an 83 km track, followed by a 45 km and a 10 km track — with international athletes taking part in each of the races.

In the 10 km course, 139 contestants took part in the competition, with 125 managing to complete the run. Saudi runner Mohammed Madkhali won first place, while Yemeni runner Fares Aman Aldin came in second and another Saudi runner, Meshari Almuhanna, finished third.

In the women’s category, US runner Meredith Byrne won first place, Saudi runner Sarah Abdullatif came in second, and British runner Maureen McConnell finished third.

Ninety athletes took part in the 45 km race, with 85 finishing. Saudi runner Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi came in first, with Australian Matthew Sudich second and French runner Nicholas Mordelet in third.

In the women’s category, Dutch runner Floortje Rawee came in first, followed by Italian Alessandra Grassi in second and American Natasha Turak third.

The 83 km race featured 37 athletes with only 17 finishing. In the men’s category, US runner Michael Wardian finished first, followed by Pierre Breuer from Belgium in second and Malaysia’s Soonseng Ong third.

In the women’s category, Amy Sproston from the US ranked first, with Ruth Theresia from Indonesia second and American Rachel Bessette third.

EcoTrail AlUla attracted athletes from around the world, most notably the US, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore, Jordan, Oman, Peru, Poland and Indonesia.

The one-day trail gave visitors the opportunity to become acquainted with AlUla and its distinctive natural, cultural, architectural and historical monuments. The trail is an eye-catching destination for running enthusiasts and jogging clubs, and will encourage people to visit AlUla and Saudi Arabia to take part in a global sporting event that promotes environmentally friendly principles and initiatives.

The race contained several medical care stops and catering stations, and each participant received a number in addition to a welcome gift and a shirt. An inaugural dinner was held to welcome contestants on the night before the race.

EcoTrail AlUla is the first race to occur in the Middle East and one of the most notable sports events of this year’s Winter at Tantora festival. The race was sponsored by STC, Almarai Company, Sabeeka Energy Bar, Whites, and Hussak Adventures. The festival’s latest season also provides a wide range of diverse experiences that meet the needs of all visitors and entertain all tastes, for individuals, groups or families from all walks of life.

The festival began on Dec. 19 and will run until March 7, 2020. Guests of the second season of this year will be able to visit the astonishing historical and heritage sites exclusively, and attend the international musical and artistic performances.