Al-Hilal march on toward Saudi title as Al-Adalah face the drop

Al-Hilal march on toward Saudi title as Al-Adalah face the drop
Bafétimbi Gomis scored again for Al-Hilal as their march toward the Saudi title continued. (AFP)
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Updated 16 August 2020

Al-Hilal march on toward Saudi title as Al-Adalah face the drop

Al-Hilal march on toward Saudi title as Al-Adalah face the drop
  • For Al-Hilal, the title edges nearer by the match

DUBAI: Leaders Al-Hilal edged closer to a record 16th Saudi Professional League title after a comfortable 4-0 win over Al-Adalah left them needing two more wins to ensure they cannot be caught by closest challengers and reigning champions Al-Nassr.

The Riyadh club hardly need any help in their seemingly unstoppable march towards yet another championship, but the fixture list had for good measure thrown up a visit to the team anchored at the bottom of the SPL table in round 25 of the disrupted campaign.

Romanian coach Răzvan Lucescu’s team had all but settled this season’s title race after beating Al-Nassr 4-1 in the first match after the enforced break due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This proved another procession.

Despite facing a surprisingly high press by Al-Adalah’s forward line, Al-Hilal quickly settled into their rhythm with Govinco pulling the strings in the middle of the park while Salem Al-Dawsari worked tirelessly down the right channel. And it was the Saudi international who set up the opening goal for Al-Hilal when his low cross was side-footed by Bafétimbi Gomis on the half hour. It was the Frenchman’s 19th league goal of the season, taking him level with Abderrazak Hamdallah of Al-Nassr at the top of the scoring charts.

The same player should have doubled the lead on 58 minutes when Al-Adalah goalkeeper Ali Al-Mazidi was caught outside his penalty area, but Gomis’s clipped shot just missed the open goal.

Two minutes later Naif Hazazi should have levelled the match after being set up by the on-loan Malian winger Adama Traore, but his right-footed shot missed the target from close range. On 72 minutes Traore himself came within inches of an equaliser when his stunning left footed shot struck Abdullah Al-Mayouf’s right-hand post.

A minute later Syrian international Omar Khrbin replaced Govinco, and almost immediately Gomis doubled Al-Hilal’s lead, tapping in another precise Al-Dawsari cross, this time from the right.

Al-Dawsari sealed his man-of-the-match performance with a sensational solo goal with 11 minutes left, dancing through the Al Adalah defence before curling the ball past Al Mazidi.

There was still time for Khrbin to make it 4-0 from the penalty spot after Saleh Al-Shehri was fouled in stoppage time by Radhi Al-Radhi, who received a red card for his troubles.

“It was an important win on the way to hopefully winning the league,” said the substitute Khrbin. “Another two or three matches and we can wrap up the title, but the most important thing today was the three points.”

The striker believes that the substitutions helped settle the match in Al-Hilal’s favours while restricting any potential for exhaustion.

“The coach has picked the right team for each match, and the players have always performed in the right spirit,” he said. “Today perhaps there was a conservation of effort, and it was very important that we scored that first goal. It made the match more straight forward.”

Mohammed Jahfali, returning to Al-Hilal’s defence, agreed that the coach’s selection exploited the depth of the squad.

“In terms of rotation, that is normal especially after the long break,” he said. “It’s impossible to play with the same 11 all the time because of the weather and tiredness. Our squad complement each other, and everyone is ready to step in.”

He would not comment on the destination of the SPL title, saying that as things stand, Al-Hilal cannot assume “one percent” that it’s already won.

Al-Adalah defender Bader Al-Nakhli thought the result did not reflect how his team played and backed his coach's decision to play the high press, rather than sit back and try to hit Al-Hilal on the counterattack.

“It’s harsh defeat,” he said. “We tried our best in the first half, we tried to contain them for as long as we could.”

“I think the coach had the right idea, the tactics were right and we closed them down,” Al-Nakhli said. “Yes, the high pressing game can be tiring, but after they scored the first goal the match became more open, especially in the second half. Now we have to play the last five matches as if they’re a separate tournament. We have to try and win every match so we can stay up.”

Al-Adalah are now on 20 points almost certainties for relegation, but Hazazi refused to make any excuses for the defeat.

“We didn’t expect to lose by four to be honest, the midfielder said. “From the start the team matched Al-Hilal, a team who are going for the league title and could be crowned in the next match or two. We managed to match a team like that until about the 65th minute, but mistakes happened, but we can’t blame anyone specifically.”

“We carried out the press from the start,” Hazazi added. “But we have to be honest, in this match we had nothing to lose. We have the capabilities to score, we had some chances that had we scored would have changed the match. But then all the substitutions probably didn’t help us, Al Hilal are a very big team.”

In the day’s other matches, relegation-threatened Damac recorded a valuable 2-0 win at Al-Taawoun, while Al-Faislay closed the gap on Al-Ahli in third place to two points with another 2-0 win.

For Al-Hilal, the title edges nearer by the match.


Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 

Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 

Saudi Arabia wins 4 medals at 2021 Arab Athletics Championship 
  • The Kingdom’s track team claimed a first-place podium finish in the men’s 4x100-meter relay race at the Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia
  • Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr was in attendance when the national team members from the short-distance relay were awarded their gold medals

Saudi Arabia’s athletes returned home from the 2021 Arab Athletics Championship with a medal haul that included two golds, a silver and a bronze, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The Kingdom’s track team claimed a first-place podium finish in the men’s 4x100-meter relay race at the Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia.

Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Abdulaziz bin Ali Al-Saqr was present when the national team members from the short-distance relay were awarded their gold medals.

More than 500 athletes from 14 countries competed in 44 events while Morocco won 31 medals, followed by Algeria (21), Egypt (19) and host Tunisia (16).


Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death

Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death
Updated 23 June 2021

Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death

Police officer guilty of manslaughter in soccer star’s death
LONDON: A British police officer was convicted Wednesday of manslaughter in the death of Dalian Atkinson, a former professional soccer player who died after being Tasered and kicked in the head.
A jury unanimously found Constable Benjamin Monk guilty of manslaughter but cleared him of murder.
Former Aston Villa star Atkinson, 48, died in August 2016 after police were called to his father’s home in Telford, central England. He went into cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital and died around an hour after officers used a Taser to subdue him. Prosecutors said Monk used a stun gun for 33 seconds against Atkinson — more than six times longer than was standard.
Monk, 43, said he had been afraid for his life after Atkinson, who appeared to be having a mental health crisis, made threats and smashed a glass door pane. He claimed he acted in lawful self-defense, first using a stun gun eight times and then aiming kicks at the athlete’s shoulder. His boot hit Atkinson at least twice in the head.
The officer was convicted after a six-week trial. Atkinson’s family members said in a statement they were “hugely relieved that the whole country now knows the truth about how Dalian died.”
Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court are still deliberating on an assault charge against another police officer who was Monk’s girlfriend at the time.
It is extremely rare for police in Britain to be convicted of manslaughter or murder over deaths in custody or during contact with the public. According to the charity Inquest, the last such conviction was in 1986.
Atkinson was a forward who played in England’s top division for Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa. During a Villa game against Wimbledon in October 1992 he scored one of the Premier League’s most famous goals when he ran from inside his own half, evaded a number of challenges, then chipped the ball over the goalkeeper.
He scored 20 Premier League goals for Villa and also netted in the 1994 League Cup final in the team’s 3-1 win over Manchester United. Atkinson also had spells with Real Sociedad in Spain, Fenerbahce in Turkey and in South Korea.

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach
Updated 23 June 2021

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach

16km cycling track to be built alongside Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach
  • Track is part of plans by crown prince to transform Dubai into bicycle-friendly city

DUBAI: A new 16-km cycling track that will run alongside Jumeirah Beach in Dubai has been announced, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The design and construction of the track have come on the orders of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, crown prince of the emirate and chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.

The new track will connect the existing Jumeirah Street cycling track parallel to the Dubai Water Canal with the one that runs alongside King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Street in Dubai Internet City.

“The construction of this cycling track is part of our efforts to realise the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to improve the quality of life of people and enhance their happiness,” Mattar Mohammed Al-Tayer, director general and chairman of the board of executive directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said in a statement. “It is also a step to advance sustainable mobility.”

Al-Tayer said the new track is part of Sheikh Hamdan’s plans to transform Dubai into a bicycle-friendly city, and will contribute to the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.

The first sector of the track will have a width of 4 meters stretching alongside Jumeirah Beach in parallel to the existing jogging and walking tracks that extend from Dubai Water Canal to Umm Suqeim Park.

The second sector, which will have a width of 3 meters, will run alongside Jumeirah Street and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Street up to Dubai Internet City.

It will serve locations alongside Jumeirah Beach such as the Sunset Mall, Open Beach, Dubai Sailing Club, Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim Park, and Burj Al Arab.

“The public can use the track for cycling alongside a beach that boasts a variety of service facilities. They can also benefit from the shared bike services available at the Sunset Mall, Al-Manara Mosque and Umm Suqeim Park. The speed limit set for this track is 20 km/h and is classified among mobility, sports and leisure tracks,” said Al-Tayer.

“The cycling track along Jumeirah Beach is part of a master plan for constructing cycling tracks to link vital areas of the emirate,” he added.

“The Master Plan for Cycling Tracks 2026 envisages the construction of additional cycling tracks extending 276 km, which will bring the total length of cycling tracks in the emirate to 739 km. The plan aims to link the tracks at the coastal areas, such as Jumeirah, Al-Sufouh and Al-Marina with the external tracks at Al-Qudra, Seih Assalam and Nad Al-Sheba via Al-Barsha, Dubai Hills.”

Dedicated cycling tracks in Dubai completed by the end of 2020 extend a total of 463 km, and the RTA is seeking to further extend the length to 739 km by 2026.

The RTA has also set a speed limit of 30 km/h for tracks dedicated to cyclists, while tracks in urban areas dedicated to cyclists or shared with pedestrians have a speed limit of 20 km/h.


Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
Updated 23 June 2021

Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup

Mauritania beats Yemen 2-0 to qualify for 2021 FIFA Arab Cup
  • African nation joins Tunisia, UAE, Syria in Group B of tournament

DUBAI: Mauritania has qualified for the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup after goals from Ismael Diakite and Hemeya Tanjy secured a 2-0 win over Yemen in the qualifier that took place in Doha.

Mauritania joins Tunisia, the UAE and Syria in Group B of the tournament that will take place between Nov. 27 and Dec. 18.

The match began at a fast pace with both teams trading attacks. Mauritania came closest to breaking the deadlock after six minutes, only for Adama Ba’s free kick to be tipped onto the post by Khairalah Mohammed in Yemen’s goal.

The Africans did get the opener in the 18th minute, and in some style. Ba, from the back, spotted Diakite’s run behind the Yemen backline and delivered a fine long ball over Yemeni defense. Diakite did the rest, finishing clinically after some impeccable control.

Yemen’s chances of a comeback took a massive hit shortly before half time when Mudir Al-Radaei was sent off for a deliberate handball.

After the break, the Yemenis did their best to get back into the game, but the disadvantage meant they were facing an uphill task.

Diakite had a half chance to double the lead for Mauritania when he burst down the right, but he failed to trouble Khairalah.

The second goal eventually came in the dying minutes of the match when Tanjy’s effort slipped under the Yemen goalkeeper to seal a 2-0 victory.

Yemen did finally put the ball in the net in stoppage time, but the effort was ruled out for an offside.


WHO concerned about eased virus curbs around Euro 2020

WHO concerned about eased virus curbs around Euro 2020
Updated 22 June 2021

WHO concerned about eased virus curbs around Euro 2020

WHO concerned about eased virus curbs around Euro 2020
  • WHO is concerned about easing of restrictions in some of the host countries, said a WHO official
  • Britain Tuesday said over 60,000 spectators will be allowed at London’s Wembley stadium semi-finals and final

COPENHAGEN: The World Health Organization on Tuesday said it was concerned about the easing of Covid-19 restrictions by nations hosting Euro 2020 matches, noting that some were already seeing rising cases.
“WHO is concerned about easing of restrictions in some of the host countries,” Robb Butler, an executive director at WHO’s Regional Office for Europe, said in an emailed statement to AFP.
“A few of the stadiums hosting the tournament are now increasing the number of spectators allowed,” Butler said.
The UN health agency did not single out any cities, but Britain announced Tuesday that more than 60,000 spectators will be allowed at the Wembley stadium in London for the semifinals and final of the tournament.
Originally, it was intended to limit the crowd to 40,000.
UEFA has also been in talks with the UK government to ease virus-related travel restrictions to allow up to 2,500 VIPs to attend the final on July 11.
In some “host cities, Covid-19 cases are already on the rise in the area where matches will be held,” said Butler.
In areas where infection rates are on the rise, WHO Europe called on the cities concerned to act quickly.
“Learning from experience, we must act fast on signals showing increasing cases.
“Expanding testing and sequencing; stepping up contact tracing; and building very high vaccine uptake fast among those vulnerable and most at risk,” he added.
In Denmark, 29 cases have been detected in connection with the Euro games taking place in Copenhagen.
The reported infections involved people who were either already ill during the match or were infected during the game, Anette Lykke Petri, a health authority official, told a Tuesday press briefing.
“In theory, there could be more people infected,” she added.
In Denmark, the permitted audience has also recently been increased to 25,000, from 16,000. The higher number was first applied for last Thursday’s game between Denmark and Belgium.
In Budapest, games at the Puskas Arena, which has a capacity of 68,000, have been played to a full stadium.
UEFA had also stripped two cities, Dublin and Bilbao, from hosting games in the tournament because the capacities allowed were too low.
Among the host cities, Russia’s St. Petersburg in particular has reported an increase in the number of cases in recent days.
Meanwhile the trend has been downward in Spain’s Seville and in Rome, Italian authorities assure that no cases of Covid-19 linked to the competition have been detected.
While the situation across Europe has improved over the past two months, the WHO has nevertheless urged continued caution.
“Although we have come far, we have not come far enough,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, warned in early June.
Vaccine uptake was still too low to protect the region from a resurgence, he said.