Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal stunned by Tajiks in Asian Champions League

Istiklol's goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov (L) vies for the ball with Hilal's forward Bafetimbi Gomis during their AFC Champions League group A match in Riyadh on April 21, 2021. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
Istiklol's goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov (L) vies for the ball with Hilal's forward Bafetimbi Gomis during their AFC Champions League group A match in Riyadh on April 21, 2021. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
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Updated 25 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal stunned by Tajiks in Asian Champions League

Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal stunned by Tajiks in Asian Champions League

RIYADH: Saudi giants Al Hilal crashed to a humiliating 4-1 defeat against Istiqlol in the Asian Champions League on Saturday, a result that boosted the Tajik side’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Three-times continental champs Al Hilal had beaten Istiqlol 3-1 on Wednesday but were in for a massive shock in the return.
Russian-born midfielder Manuchekhr Dzhalilov and Manuchehr Safarov each grabbed a brace at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Stadium in Riyadh.
Al Hilal, who last won the tournament in 2019 but were kicked out last year following a spate of coronavirus infections in the squad that left them without enough players, showed early intent on Saturday.
They opened their account through a header from French striker Bafetimbi Gomis in the 34th minute.
But that was the only bright moment for the Saudi side as Dzhalilov struck twice in the span of six minutes to give Istiqlol a 2-1 lead at half-time.
When play resumed, Istiqlol continued to build pressure and it paid off with Safarov taking charge this time.
The 19-year-old defender made it 3-1 in the 49th minute with his intended cross from the right dropping into the goal stunning goalkeeper Abdulla Al-Maiouf.
Safarov completed his double four minutes later with a powerful low shot after receiving a pass from Rustom Soirov to leave the Saudis, who were hugely favored to top Group A, stunned.
In another match, the UAE’s Shabab Al Ahli defeated Uzbekistan’s AGMK 3-1 to join Al Hilal and Istiqlol on seven points and leave Group A wide open.
Only the group winners and three best second-placed teams make the last 16 phase.
Harib Suhail, Carlos Eduardo and Ahmed Hashmi scored for Shabab in the first half while Shohruh Gadoev accounted for AGMK’s only goal of the match.
In Group C, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase with a 2-1 win over Iraq’s Al Shorta.
Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s 79th minute goal clinched three points for the two-time runners-up at their home ground at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, one of the three bio-secure hubs in Saudi Arabia where the west zone matches of the tournament are being played.
Syrian striker Omar Al-Somah had given the Saudis a fifth minute lead, scoring from inside the six-yard box off a Driss Fettouhi corner.
But their joy was short-lived as Fahad Youssef restored parity in the 26th minute after he gathered the ball following a free-kick and blasted it past goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Owais.
After several close chances for both teams, Ghareeb made amends for his miss earlier with a low shot from a pass from Al-Somah to seal Al Ahli’s second victory over the Iraqis, who crashed out of the tournament with their fourth consecutive defeat.
Also in Group C, Qatar’s Al Duhail and Iran’s Esteghlal played out a 2-2 draw at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
Michael Olunga, who had scored a hat-trick against Esteghlal three days ago when Al Duhail won 4-3, again excelled for the Qataris.
He scored two goals with the result consolidating his team’s position at the top with eight points.


Saudi Arabian runner Mazen Al-Yassin wins Men’s 400m heat to reach Tokyo 2020 Olympics semi-final

Saudi Arabian runner Mazen Al-Yassin wins Men’s 400m heat to reach Tokyo 2020 Olympics semi-final
Updated 01 August 2021

Saudi Arabian runner Mazen Al-Yassin wins Men’s 400m heat to reach Tokyo 2020 Olympics semi-final

Saudi Arabian runner Mazen Al-Yassin wins Men’s 400m heat to reach Tokyo 2020 Olympics semi-final
  • The 25-year-old’s result represents one of the Kingdom’s best performances at the Olympics

Runner Mazen Al-Yassin has produced off one of the Saudi Arabian delegation’s best performances at Tokyo 2020 by winning his race in the Men’s 400m competition at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday morning.

A personal best time of 45.16 in  saw him finish ahead of Kevin Borlee of Belgium and Ricky Petrucciani of Switzerland.

The 25-year-old will now be aiming for what would be a glorious appearance at Thursday’s final when he takes part in Monday morning semifinals, starting from 2.05am Saudi Arabian time.

Al-Yassin received the call up to the Olympics on July 2, and headed to Tokyo after eight years of consistent participation at 400m behind him.

He represented Saudi Arabia at the 2013 World Youth Championships in Ukraine, and that same year he won gold at the 4x400m relay at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Indonesia, and silver at in the individual 400m at the Asian Junior Games in Taiwan.

In 2015 another silver followed with Saudi in the 4x400m relay at the Asian Games in China.

In 2017, Al-Yassin’s personal best would show rapid improvement as shown with silver in the individual 400m race at the Arab Championships in Tunisia, and bronze in the relay. The same year grabbed another silver at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.


Irish boxer injures ankle celebrating win, out of Olympics

Irish boxer injures ankle celebrating win, out of Olympics
Updated 01 August 2021

Irish boxer injures ankle celebrating win, out of Olympics

Irish boxer injures ankle celebrating win, out of Olympics
  • Britain’s Pat McCormack advances to the gold medal bout by walkover
  • Walsh, who beat Merven Clair of Mauritius 4:1 on Friday, gets a bronze medal

TOKYO: Aidan Walsh has been forced out of his semifinal bout at the Tokyo Olympics after the Irish welterweight injured his ankle while celebrating his quarterfinal victory.
Boxing officials announced Sunday that Walsh did not attend the medical check and weigh-in before his scheduled bout with Britain’s Pat McCormack, who advances to the gold medal bout by walkover.
Walsh, who is from Belfast, will still win a bronze medal. But he appeared to cost himself a chance at gold by celebrating overzealously after he beat Merven Clair of Mauritius 4:1 on Friday to advance to the medal bouts.
Walsh wildly jumped up and down after the verdict was announced, and he landed awkwardly on his ankle. The Irish team said Walsh sprained his ankle, and he was spotted by Irish media leaving the Kokugikan Arena in a wheelchair later Friday.
The Irish team confirmed Walsh is out of the Olympics due to an ankle injury, saying only that it occurred during his bout. Walsh clearly was healthy and mobile throughout his fight until he came up in pain from his celebration.
“What Aidan did this week is an incredible achievement,” said Bernard Dunne, Ireland team leader for boxing. “His performance throughout the tournament has been outstanding, and it is great to see him write his name in the annals of Irish sport.”
The top-seeded McCormack was favored to beat Walsh. McCormack now will face the winner of the other welterweight semifinal between Roniel Iglesias of Cuba and the Russian team’s Andrei Zamkovoy.
Ireland has two other boxers still fighting for medals. Walsh’s bronze is his nation’s 17th medal in boxing, representing roughly half of all the medals won by the Irish team in its Olympic history.
 


Japan’s Matsuyama ‘can’t believe’ gold in sight after Covid scare

Japan’s Matsuyama ‘can’t believe’ gold in sight after Covid scare
Updated 01 August 2021

Japan’s Matsuyama ‘can’t believe’ gold in sight after Covid scare

Japan’s Matsuyama ‘can’t believe’ gold in sight after Covid scare
  • Schauffele said you wouldn't have known Matsuyama had suffered from coronavirus after playing alongside him on Saturday

KAWAGOE, Japan: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan "can't believe" that he could be on the brink of winning Tokyo 2020 golfing gold after contracting coronavirus only four weeks ago.
The US Masters champion returned a positive Covid-19 test on July 3 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, forcing him to pull out and then miss the British Open a fortnight ago.
He feared his dream of playing and winning a medal at a home Olympics might be gone and admitted he hadn't fully recovered his fitness after being tired at the end of his first round of 69 at The Kasumigaseki Country Club on Thursday.
But on Friday he bounced back with a brilliant 64 on the par-71 course, where he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2010, and will tee off in the final group on Sunday with Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey after a 67 on Saturday.
"I definitely could not have believed I would be playing the final group with a chance to win after having Covid," Matsuyama told reporters after finishing his third round a shot behind leader Schauffele.
"To be honest, the endurance part of my game has been struggling a little bit. Thankfully it's held up the last few days, so hopefully it's going to hold up tomorrow as well."
Schauffele said you wouldn't have known Matsuyama had suffered from coronavirus after playing alongside him on Saturday.
"He seems to be fine," said Schauffele, who leads on 14-under-par 199 after a third-round 68.
"I forgot that he had Covid, but teeing it up out here he seemed strong, seems normal and seems himself. So luckily he wasn't hit too hard by it."
Schauffele was in the final group with Matsuyama when he won at Augusta National in April and said Japan's number one was playing better then, but would still be a big threat when the two battle for Olympic glory.
"He obviously was firing on a lot of cylinders when he won the Masters," said Schauffele.
"I think he's maybe not as in his realm of perfection, maybe he's not hitting it as good as he would like to, but he's only one (shot) back."
Asia's first US Masters champion is revered in Japan and -- under huge pressure to deliver gold -- would normally be followed by huge galleries.
But even with no spectators at these Olympics, Matsuyama still had every birdie putt roared on by hundreds of Japanese volunteers and support staff.
"It does not feel like we don't have fans out here," he said.


Brave Egyptian footballers exit Tokyo 2020 after narrow loss to Brazil

Brave Egyptian footballers exit Tokyo 2020 after narrow loss to Brazil
Updated 31 July 2021

Brave Egyptian footballers exit Tokyo 2020 after narrow loss to Brazil

Brave Egyptian footballers exit Tokyo 2020 after narrow loss to Brazil
  • Led superbly by Ahmed Hegazi, Egypt performed with great spirit, but once again let down by a lack of scoring power

Egypt’s U-23 team has been eliminated from the men’s Olympic football tournament after narrowly losing 1-0 to reigning champions Brazil at Saitama Stadium.

The Pharaohs reached the quarterfinals after finishing second in Group C with a 0-0 draw against Spain, a 1-0 loss to Argentina and a fine  2-0 win over Australia. 

Brazil’s final group match was a 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia, which ensured they finished on top ahead of Ivory Coast.

Egypt showed little fear in the face of the Rio 2016 gold medalists, and put pressure on the Brazilian defence in the opening 15 minutes.

On 20 minutes, Egypt had a major scare when goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shenawy, a standout performer at Tokyo, looked to have injured his thigh. However after some on-pitch treatment he was able to continue.

Seven minutes later, El-Shenawy was called into action when he saved a stinging left footed shot from Richarlison, the tournament’s top scorer with five goals.

But Egypt, led superbly by Ahmed Hegazi, continued to look dangerous on the break with 21-year-old Amar Hamdi in particular causing the Brazilian midfield problems with his penetrating runs.

The deadlock was broken in the 37th minute when a sharp Brazil counterattack saw Richarlison find Matheus Cunha, who scored with a precise shot past El-Shenawy.

As hard as Egypt tried to get back on terms in the second half, they rarely troubled Santos in the Brazil goal, while El-Shenawy kept his team in the game with several good saves.

At the final whistle, the dejected Egyptians and joyous Brazilians showed just how well the African team had performed. But in the end, with their attacking prowess, few could argue that the South Americans did not deserve to progress to the semifinal.

On Tuesday, Brazil will face the winner of the last quarterfinal between South Korea and Mexico.


Personal best followed by elimination for UAE’s Mohamed Al-Hammadi in Men’s 100m at Tokyo 2020

Personal best followed by elimination for UAE’s Mohamed Al-Hammadi in Men’s 100m at Tokyo 2020
Updated 31 July 2021

Personal best followed by elimination for UAE’s Mohamed Al-Hammadi in Men’s 100m at Tokyo 2020

Personal best followed by elimination for UAE’s Mohamed Al-Hammadi in Men’s 100m at Tokyo 2020
  • The 29-year-old Emirati sprinter finished third in Saturday morning’s preliminary heats but faced a tough field in the afternoon’s Round 1

Sprinter Mohamed Hassan Al-Noobi Al-Hammadi became the last member of the UAE’s five-athlete delegation to depart Tokyo 2020 when he failed to progress from Saturday afternoon’s Men’s 100m Round 1 — Heat 5 in the Olympic Stadium.

Earlier in the day, the 29-year-old Emirati had posted a personal best time of 10.59 seconds, finishing third in the Preliminary Round — Heat 2 behind Barakat Al-Harthi of Oman and Emanuel Archibald of Guyana.

Racing against a much tougher field in the second race of the day, Al-Hammadi managed a time of 10.64, 0.63 seconds behind the third of the qualifiers, Ferdinand Omurwa of Kenya.