Al-Ittihad hit form at last to boost battle against relegation

Al-Ittihad hit form at last to boost battle against relegation
Al-Ittihad were unrecognizable from their recent disappointing run of form. (SPL)
Short Url
Updated 25 August 2020

Al-Ittihad hit form at last to boost battle against relegation

Al-Ittihad hit form at last to boost battle against relegation
  • 4-1 win over struggling Al-Fayha leaves Jeddah side three points clear of drop zone with three games to play

RIYADH: Relegation-threatened Al-Ittihad belatedly seem to have hit something approaching top form as the disrupted Saudi Professional League season heads toward a tense conclusion.

Having flirted with the relegation zone, and what would be an ignominious drop from the Saudi top flight, the Jeddah club enjoyed a 4-1 victory over fellow basement battlers Al-Fayha on Monday. They can breathe a little more easily now as they sit in 11th place, three points clear of the drop zone with three matches left to play.

Al-Ittihad were unrecognizable from their recent disappointing run of form as they took a two-goal lead within five minutes, thanks to a Romarinho double. The first came only two minutes after kick-off, when the Brazilian playmaker side-footed Saud Abdulhamid’s cross into the net. Three minutes later, Romarinho doubled the lead, taking advantage of a defensive mistake to power a shot past Moslem Al-Freej after a fine pass from Fahad Al-Muwallad.

Al-Ittihad could not maintain their devastating start, however, and as their old insecurities began to surface, the visitors managed to get themselves back in the match midway through the first half.

What in the early stages had looked like it would be a comfortable evening for the home side suddenly turned nervy after 28 minutes when Al-Fayha’s own Brazilian star, Neto, halved the deficit with a fine, close-range volley after the ball had struck the crossbar.

A heroic double save by keeper Marcelo Grohe prevented an equalizer early in the second half, as Al-Fayah coach Jorge Simao threw caution to the wind in an effort to capitalize on Al-Ittihad’s nerves.

On 66 minutes, however, a fine pass by Abdulaziz Al-Bishi left Al-Muwallad one-on-one with Al-Freej, who had no choice but to impede the Saudi international as he skipped past him. Al-Muwallad himself buried the penalty to all but clinch the points for Al-Ittihad.

That was not the end of the scoring, however. With 15 minutes left, the Saudi duo again combined to produce the move of the match, as Al-Bishi slipped the ball through to Al-Muwallad, who delivered a clinical finish into the roof of the net.

The defeat leaves Al-Fayha in 13th place, just two points above the relegation zone. The 4-1 scoreline might flatter Al-Ittihad but with only three matches left, so long as they continue to secure the points coach Fabio Carille and his players will care little for the quality of the performances.

Al-Bishi, who started for Al-Ittihad for the first time since a 2-1 home defeat to Damac on Feb. 10, was outstanding on his return and said he is looking forward to the remaining matches against Al-Fateh (away), Al-Nassr (home) and, on the last day of the season, Al-Adalah (away)

“As you know, our position in the league has not been very good,” Al-Bishi said. “But today we came in with high spirits; we were determined to get the three points and we managed to do that. Now we have to keep winning in the next three matches.”

Grohe, who excelled in goal for Al-Ittihad, put the ultimately comfortable win down to team ethic.

“Three important points — the win was the most important thing today,” he said. “We now have to keep the same focus in the coming matches.

“The difference is that the team has more unity and coherence. I know we can do better but it was a collective effort from every member of the team today.

“Until it’s confirmed mathematically, we have to maintain our focus in the coming period. The next match, against Al-Fateh, is the most important one now, and after that we can start to talk about beating relegation.”

His counterpart, Al-Fayha goalkeeper Al-Freej, was understandably disappointed.

“It was a bad day for us, collectively, but we have to put this match behind us,” he said. “We have a difficult match coming up. We have to forget this. The match against Al-Nassr is now so important — we need the three points.”

Al-Fayha have only collected two points from five games since the league restarted this month after an unscheduled break of almost five months because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the ’keeper believes the results do not reflect their performances.

“We played two matches against Damac and Al-Shabab (and) we were unlucky; we deserved to win both,” Al-Freej said. “Today we were unfortunate but that’s football. We have to work harder and, hopefully, we can rectify our position in the little time that’s left.”

Earlier in the day, Al-Fateh eased their own relegation fears by beating Al-Hazem 4-3 in a dramatic clash. It leaves them in 12th place on 29 points, two points above their hosts, who remain inside the drop zone in 14th position.

The first half ended 1-1, with Sofiane Bendebka’s 18th-minute opener canceled out by a Carlos Strandberg penalty five minutes before the break. But the action at Al-Hazem Stadium was only getting started.

Al-Fateh began the second half in the ascendancy and took a two-goal lead courtesy of Mitchell te Vrede on 49 minutes and Bashkim Kadrii two minutes later.

Just before the hour mark, Osama Al-Khalaf pulled one back to raise the possibility of a remarkable comeback for Al-Hazem, but Ali Al-Hassan appeared to kill their hopes when he restored the two-goal lead on 80 minutes. Abdulrahman Al-Yami made it 4-3 a minute into stoppage time, but by then the clock was against Al-Hazem.

In the day’s other games, Al-Ettifaq thrashed Al-Raed 4-0 in the opening match of round 27, while Al-Shabab and Abha Club played out a 1-1 draw in their middle-of-the-table clash.
 


Young scores 48 points, Hawks beat Bucks 116-113 in Game 1

Young scores 48 points, Hawks beat Bucks 116-113 in Game 1
Updated 24 June 2021

Young scores 48 points, Hawks beat Bucks 116-113 in Game 1

Young scores 48 points, Hawks beat Bucks 116-113 in Game 1
  • The Hawks handed the Bucks their first home loss of the postseason
  • Game 2 is on Friday night in MilwaukeeAtlanta Hawks guard Trae Young puts up a shot against Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis of the Milwaukee Bucks guard on June 23, 2021. (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports)

MILWAUKEE: Trae Young scored 48 points, Clint Capela converted a go-ahead putback with 29.8 seconds left and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-113 on Wednesday night to open the Eastern Conference finals.
The Hawks improved to 6-2 in road playoff games this year and handed the Bucks their first home loss of the postseason.
“I felt we’ve built ourselves to be able to play on the road,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “I’ve told them that. They’re built for this.”
Game 2 is Friday night in Milwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Bucks. Jrue Holiday added 33 points and 10 assists.
Young was two points off his career high.
“We keep fighting,” Young said. “It’s been fun playing with this group. We just keep fighting to the end, no matter what the score is. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to keep fighting.”
John Collins added 23 points and 15 rebounds for the Hawks. Capela had 12 points and 19 rebounds.
Khris Middleton missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds. Although Middleton scored 15 points, he shot 6 of 23 and missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.
“Offensively, it didn’t seem like we moved very well,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Antetokounmpo scored the first six points in a 9-0 run that turned a 98-96 deficit into a 105-98 advantage with 4:18 left. Holiday capped that spurt by sinking a 3-pointer after Antetokounmpo got the rebound on his own missed free throw.
But the Hawks scored the next five points, and the game went back and forth from there.
Middleton missed a pull-up jumper with about 43 seconds left with Milwaukee up 111-110. Young missed a driving layup attempt, but Capela grabbed his 19th rebound and scored to put the Hawks ahead for good.
After Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton shot an air-ball on a 3-pointer, Young made two free throws with 17.3 seconds remaining. Antetokounmpo made a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds left, but Young brought the lead back to three and closed the scoring by sinking two free throws of his own with 4.6 seconds remaining.

TIP-INS
Hawks: Bogdan Bogdanovic started but clearly was at less than full strength as he deals with a sore knee. He scored four points and shot 1 of 6. ... Cam Reddish was available to play for the first time in four months but didn’t play. Reddish hadn’t played since Feb. 21 due to a right Achilles injury. Hawks coach Nate McMillan had said before the game the Hawks would cautious with Reddish by keeping him behind Tony Snell and Solomon Hill in the rotation. “We haven’t had the opportunity for him to get in any five-on-five since he’s been off,” McMillan said. “He’s been playing the last week or so some two-on-two, three-on-three.” … Atlanta is the third team since 1984 to make the conference finals despite having a losing record at the All-Star break. The others were the 2012 Boston Celtics and the 1984 Phoenix Suns. The Hawks were 16-20 at the break.
Bucks: Bobby Portis came off the bench with 4 1/2minutes left in the first quarter and ended up with 11 points and eight rebounds. Portis hadn’t played a single minute in the last three games of the Nets series. ... Milwaukee fell to 11-3 in playoff games at Fiserv Forum. … This is the fifth time the Bucks and Hawks have faced off in the playoffs and their first postseason matchup since the Hawks won 4-3 in a 2010 opening-round series. They’ve split the four previous matchups.
 


AlUla joins Team BikeExchange as official partner ahead of Tour de France 2021

The partnership between AlUla and Team BikeExchange will look to promote cycling and healthy living in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied/AlUla)
The partnership between AlUla and Team BikeExchange will look to promote cycling and healthy living in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied/AlUla)
Updated 24 June 2021

AlUla joins Team BikeExchange as official partner ahead of Tour de France 2021

The partnership between AlUla and Team BikeExchange will look to promote cycling and healthy living in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied/AlUla)
  • Partnership will officially run from July 2021 to December 2023, will look to promote cycling in the Kingdom

ALULA: Saudi Arabia's Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) will be partners with GreenEDGE Cycling, also known as Team BikeExchange, ahead of the Tour de France 2021 which will start on Saturday and run until July 18.

The partnership will officially run from July 2021 to December 2023.

AlUla, a heritage and culture destination in north-west Saudi Arabia, has chosen to partner with GreenEDGE during the 2021 UCI Cycling World Tour for men and women in an effort to introduce the its desert landscapes to cycling and sport fans around the world as well as raising the profile of the sport in the Kingdom.

Philip Jones, Chief Management and Marketing Officer at RCU said he is excited to partner with a team that shares common goals such as sustaining eco-friendly environments and promoting health benefits through cycling. 

“AlUla is delighted to become an Official Partner of GreenEDGE Cycling and to be part of a sport which has 1.7 billion spectators around the globe,” he said. “Cycling is a premium sport and offers an invaluable opportunity to communicate the premium AlUla experience, our extraordinary heritage and culture as well as our efforts to future proof the destination for the enjoyment of future generations of visitors.

“As a developing tourism destination, AlUla is focused on safeguarding the natural and cultural landscape, sustaining eco-systems and wildlife and developing light-touch tourism experiences.,” he added. “We are excited to work with the passionate team at GreenEDGE Cycling in the coming years.”

AlUla, and Saudi Arabia as a whole, has increasingly emerged as favored tourist destination in recent years, and its connection to sport has already been established through several competitions and events that include running, motorsports such as Extreme E, and desert polo.

GreenEDGE Cycling Owner and Chairman Gerry Ryan has been a major investor in sport as a way to connect to his customers and sports fans globally, and was involved in the production of the documentary “All For One” in 2017 and the Amazon Prime Series “Eat. Race. Win.” in 2018.

“I am extremely delighted to announce this new partnership between GreenEDGE Cycling and AlUla, a luxury travel destination which we are honored to promote on our team assets,” said Ryan. “We haven’t been there yet physically, but in the last few weeks we have meet many people who are working to promote the region and we have seen so many breathless images and videos and I can’t wait for our first opportunity to visit AlUla and discover more about it. We will do our best to support their growth.”

Home to Hegra, the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the Kingdom, as well as the ancient Kingdom of Dadan, the open air library of rock inscriptions in Jabal Ikmah, and AlUla Old Town, AlUla’s history goes back more than 200,000 years. Today the region is a year-round destination for heritage, arts, nature and adventure. Cycling, through railway bike trails, functional road bike paths and scenic mountain biking is set to play a major part in AlUla’s “Journey Through Time” 15-year masterplan, launched in April 2021.

“For us it is very exciting to have such a prestigious and historical region coming onboard with GreenEdge Cycling,” Brent Copeland, General Manager, Team BikeExchange said. “We strongly feel cycling and Team BikeExchange in particular is the perfect brand to promote such a spectacular area. I look forward to visiting in person soon and working closely with the team at RCU to maximise the opportunities of our partnership.”

“The mutual respect and alignment of values is great for GreenEdge Cycling and it will be exciting to see how our partnership can help AlUla to grow awareness among the passionate cycling community as a luxury heritage destination,” he added. “We are here for a long term partnership and we will keep developing together.”


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
  • A jury unanimously found Constable Benjamin Monk guilty of manslaughter but cleared him of murder
  • Monk used a stun gun for 33 seconds against Former Aston Villa star Dalian Atkinson six times longer than standard

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.