Al-Nassr find hiring right coach at right time becoming more difficult

Al-Nassr find hiring right coach at right time becoming more difficult
There are a number of names floating to replace sacked Al-Nassr coach, and most of them are familiar. (Twitter: @AlNassrFC)
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Updated 27 September 2021

Al-Nassr find hiring right coach at right time becoming more difficult

Al-Nassr find hiring right coach at right time becoming more difficult
  • Riyadh club recently fired Mano Menezes, but lack of job security may make possible replacements Marcelo Gallardo, Rudi Garcia think twice

RIYADH: Firing a coach is one thing but hiring the right man is another entirely. Al-Nassr relieved Mano Menezes of his duties on Sept. 19 and want to appoint a new manager in the coming days.

It may not happen before the next league game against Abha on Thursday but there is a desire to get the next boss in place before the quarterfinal of the AFC Champions League against Al-Wahda on Oct. 15.

As usual, there are a number of names floating around in the mix and most of them are familiar.

Every time a big job in Saudi Arabia becomes available then Cosmin Olaroiu’s name comes up. The Romanian has a proven track record of success in the region winning league titles with Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE with Al-Ain and Al-Ahli. If that was not enough, the 52-year-old led Jiangsu Suning to the Chinese championship last year.

Seen as a safe pair of hands and thought to be open to a move to Al-Nassr if the conditions are right, Olaroiu also knows the AFC Champions League after leading Al-Ahli to the final of the 2015 tournament.

A slightly more left-field name is that of Matias Almeyda with reports in the US that the Riyadh club are interested in the San Jose Earthquakes boss. The former Lazio, Parma, and Inter midfielder has had success with River Plate and Banfield in his homeland of Argentina and took Guadalajara to the Mexico title and the 2018 Concacaf Champions League.

Lucien Favre, dismissed as boss of Borussia Dortmund in December, and Paulo Fonseca, the former Roma coach who almost joined Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, have also been mentioned. There are more names such as former Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas and former Al-Ahly coach Rene Weiler in the mix.

Then there is Rudi Garcia, available after leaving Lyon in May. The 57-year-old is on the list as he is thought to be at the right age for a move to Saudi Arabia. All his managerial career has been spent in France, except for a three-year spell with Roma, and it could be the right time to take a break from Europe.

Taking Lille to the title in 2011 was an impressive achievement and he has been named as the French manager of the year on three occasions. With spells at Marseille, Lyon, and Roma, the pressures of managing Al-Nassr would not be a problem.

With victories over Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League, Garcia could implement the kind of fast-paced possession football that not only appeals to Al-Nassr fans but would suit the kind of players at the club.

The Yellows would not be the first to try and tempt Marcelo Gallardo from Argentina. The 45-year-old has been named as South American coach of the year on the last three occasions but has stayed with River Plate since 2014. Reports from Buenos Aires claim that Al-Nassr officials have been in the city since last week but while the club is staying quiet on this, it looks as if Gallardo wants to stay where he is until the end of the year at least.

Finding a good coach may not be that difficult for one of the biggest clubs in Asia but finding the right one is a different question altogether. With three coaches departing Riyadh in the last nine months, it is obvious that job security is precarious, and it is not just Riyadh. Even at this early stage of the season, Menezes was not the first to lose his job, but the fourth.

Such a carousel can make it more difficult to attract a certain kind of coach. Those who want to build a team and a philosophy are unlikely to be tempted as they know that after a couple of defeats, the pressure is on. Menezes led the team through the group stage of the Champions League, past the second round and into the last eight. And yet, after two defeats in the first four games of the season, he was out.

It means that clubs have to offer silly money to tempt coaches or stick to those who do not mind taking the risk. The likes of Garcia and Gallardo may be open to working in Saudi Arabia as even a short and failed spell on their resume would not detract from the successes they have had. Alternatively, they may just decide that it is not worth the risk.

Even if a top target does decide to come, the shadow of dismissal that is never far away surely means that he is not going to do the best work. Why build a team and style when a couple of bad results means that you could be out?

The focus is only on winning the next game. If that is all that matters, then such high-level coaches are probably not necessary; there are plenty of available tacticians in Europe who could do a job and set a team up to get results.

But if a club is chasing the likes of Gallardo, an internationally renowned coach who has turned down offers from prestigious clubs, then surely it makes sense to give them the time and atmosphere needed to do the best work that they can.


Bayern star Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany

Bayern star Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany
Updated 26 October 2021

Bayern star Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany

Bayern star Kimmich sparks vaccination debate in Germany
  • On Saturday, Kimmich revealed he decided against being vaccinated, despite having founded the 'We Kick Corona" charity last year
  • Bayern president Herbert Hainer said he would be happy if Kimmich "still gets vaccinated, but there is no compulsory vaccination.

BERLIN: Joshua Kimmich will be under the spotlight for Bayern Munich at rivals Moenchengladbach on Wednesday amid a fiery debate in Germany since the footballer revealed he opted not to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The 26-year-old is set to play for Bayern in a German Cup second-round tie, but off the pitch, his decision not to get vaccinated has even drawn comment from the government in Berlin.
On Saturday, Kimmich revealed he decided against being vaccinated, despite having founded the ‘We Kick Corona” charity last year.
“It’s not that I’m a denier of the coronavirus or an opponent of vaccination,” said Kimmich, who based his decision on “personal concerns.”
The footballer’s stance drew comment from Caretaker Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, who hopes the footballer will inform himself and “let all available information about the vaccines approved in the EU sink in.”
Siebert urged Kimmich to get vaccinated because the Bayern star is “someone who is looked up to by millions” as a role model.
Kimmich appears to be in the minority among Germany’s top flight footballers.
Christian Seifert, managing director of the German Football League (DFL), has said around 94 percent of Bundesliga players are vaccinated.
Of Germany’s population of 83 million, around 66 percent are fully vaccinated, but Europe’s biggest economy is currently in the fourth wave with 10,000 new cases of the coronavirus reported Tuesday.
Since testing positive for Covid-19 last week, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann has been giving training and matchday instructions from home where he is quarantined.
Kimmich says he may get vaccinated in the future and team-mate Thomas Mueller hopes it will be sooner rather than later.
“As a friend, it’s an absolutely acceptable decision,” said Mueller.
“As a teammate, and if you also look a little at what might be better for everyone... my opinion is perhaps that the vaccination would be better.”
On Monday, Bayern president Herbert Hainer said he would be happy if Kimmich “still gets vaccinated, but there is no compulsory vaccination. One has to respect the decision.”
Kimmich has drawn plenty of criticism from medical experts.
“Joshua Kimmich is certainly a proven expert in matters of football, but not an expert in matters of vaccination and vaccines,” Thomas Mertens, chairman of Germany’s Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko), told German media.
“It is the personal decision of Kimmich and it should have stayed that way.”
There is also some support.
In a statement, Carsten Ramelow, vice president of the footballers’ union VDV, said it must be “accepted if individual players have concerns about side effects of the vaccination and therefore hold a different opinion.”
The chair of the German Ethics Council also stressed the importance of respecting Kimmich’s “private decision.”
However, the council’s chairwoman Alena Buyx told Sky “I think it’s a pity. It would be great if he would have used his platform to get better advice in order to be a role model.”
Buyx is concerned skeptics could use his statements to “cast doubt over vaccinations.”


Football icon Mohamed Salah to be part of Egypt’s national curriculum

Football icon Mohamed Salah to be part of Egypt’s national curriculum
Updated 26 October 2021

Football icon Mohamed Salah to be part of Egypt’s national curriculum

Football icon Mohamed Salah to be part of Egypt’s national curriculum
  • Students will learn about his sporting success, philanthropy, family-oriented Muslim lifestyle
  • Textbook: ‘He is a role model to millions of Egyptians’

LONDON: The story of Egyptian footballing icon Mohamed Salah will be added to the Egyptian national curriculum to teach children what it takes to become a hero on and off the pitch.

Liverpool striker and Egyptian national Mohamad Salah, 29, is undeniably one of the world’s best footballers, and his life story will now be taught to Egyptian children in the hopes that it will spur students on to success in life.

His career, consistent goal-scoring at the top echelons of international football, and philanthropic activities will be taught in English-language textbooks to primary- and secondary-school students across Egypt.

The much-loved Egyptian has brought joy to the Arab country through his football prowess, earning him the nickname “the happiness maker.”

Salah often appears on-screen alongside his hijabi wife and young daughter, who is named Makka after the holy city in Saudi Arabia.

His quiet lifestyle — in which he is visibly Muslim, including praying on-pitch after goals — and massive donations to Egypt’s poor have earned him national and international admiration.

In his own birthplace, the poor farming community of Nagrig in the Nile Delta, Salah has poured money into charitable works.

He has funded a new girls’ school, a water treatment center, an ambulance center, and a charity for orphans and the vulnerable.

Primary-school children will mainly be taught of his footballing success, while secondary-school textbooks will focus now on his philanthropic activities and will pose questions prompting students to examine what it means to be a hero.

“Salah’s desire to help others is because he wants to give young people a chance to succeed,” the secondary-school book says. “He is a role model to millions of Egyptians who give him the nickname ‘the happiness maker’.”

Salah will now sit alongside other Egyptian heroes featured in textbooks, such as Nobel Prize-winning novelist Naguib Mahfouz and UK-based cardiologist Sir Magdi Yacoub.


Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom

Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom
Updated 26 October 2021

Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom

Golf Saudi and Atlas Turf Arabia to provide advanced greens for courses across the Kingdom
  • Joint venture will deliver Platinum TE Paspalum, with both Bermudagrass and Zoysia to follow in due course
  • Several of the leading golf and landscaping projects in Saudi Arabia have secured their grass supply from Atlas Turf Arabia and the turf farm will harvest the first order of turf in Q4 2021

RIYADH: Atlas Turf Arabia, in partnership with Golf Saudi, is set to develop and distribute some of the world’s most climatically-adapted turf species throughout Saudi Arabia, starting with Platinum TE Paspalum, with both Bermudagrass and Zoysia to follow in due course.

The joint venture, which was initially agreed in 2019 to develop the region’s first internationally licensed golf and sports turf farm in Saudi Arabia, has now received its foreign investment license from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Investment, and commercial registration from the Ministry of Commerce.

“Atlas Turf Arabia will serve as a vital link in the supply chain framework in Saudi Arabia, fulfilling the objectives of Vision 2030, by providing access to turf grass solutions for Saudi-based organizations who require it,” said Majed-Al Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi.

“Golf Saudi is committed to not only securing the very best turf solutions for its own needs but to also do so by the most socially and environmentally conscious means possible,” he said. “By owning and operating our very own state-of-the-art turf farm, via Atlas Turf Arabia, we are able to not only source product sustainably but also create new job opportunities for Saudi nationals to operate the site locally, which is a key objective of Golf Saudi’s Social Agenda.”

The Social Agenda is Golf Saudi’s initiative to create additional educational and employment opportunities within the Kingdom. By also offering sustainable turf solutions to projects outside of golf, including other sports federations and organizations, as well as infrastructure and landscaping projects, Atlas Turf Arabia will continue to add further employees to its overall headcount in the months and years ahead. Several of the leading golf and landscaping projects in Saudi Arabia have secured their grass supply from Atlas Turf Arabia and the turf farm will harvest the first order of turf in Q4 2021.

Atlas Turf Arabia will also work closely with GEO Foundation, the international non-profit that for the last 15 years has been entirely dedicated to accelerating sustainability and climate action across golf.

“The establishment of Atlas Turf Arabia and the opening of our first turf farm in Saudi Arabia is the culmination of our mission to provide high quality, sustainable solutions for turfgrass projects worldwide,” John Holmes, president of Atlas Turf International, said.

“We are incredibly proud to play our part in not only working with new customers and supplying unique projects across the Middle East, but to also creating a positive and long-lasting legacy through the creation of new jobs and training opportunities for Saudi citizens,” he added. 

“This is just the first step in Atlas Turf Arabia’s journey to create a regional team capable of achieving its long-term and sustainable vision for the future of turfgrasses, not just in golf but other unique projects too.”


Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi

Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi
Updated 26 October 2021

Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi

Tunisia’s Olympic gold medal hero Ahmed Hafnaoui to race at FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi
  • Teenager will take part in short-distance tournament at Etihad Arena from Dec. 16-21

ABU DHABI: Tunisian Olympic gold medalist Ahmed Hafnaoui will compete in the upcoming FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in the UAE.

The tournament is set to take place at the Etihad Arena from Dec. 16 to 21, event organizer Abu Dhabi Sports Council has announced.

Hafnaoui, 18, won gold after an outstanding performance in the 400-meter freestyle at Tokyo 2020 with a record time of three minutes and 43 seconds.

The teenage swimmer will race against some of the sport’s elite at this year’s championships, with further athlete announcements due in November, before the full field is confirmed in December.

More than 1,000 athletes from 180 countries are expected to descend on the UAE capital to compete in 44 world championship title events over six days for a total $2.8 million prize pool.

Hafnaoui will be joined by fellow Arab representatives including Emirati swimmers Layla Al-Khatib, and Youssef Al-Matrooshi, who represented the UAE in the 100-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Games.


Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup
Updated 26 October 2021

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup

Afghanistan beats Scotland by 130 runs in T20 World Cup
  • All of Afghanistan’s top-order batsmen were among the runs and hit big sixes

SHARJAH: Offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman and legspinner Rashid Khan bowled Scotland for 60 as Afghanistan started the T20 World Cup with a massive 130-run victory on Monday.
Mujeeb claimed three wickets in an over to finish with 5-20 while Rashid (4-9) ran through the tail quickly to dismiss Scotland in just 10.2 overs and raise Afghanistan’s biggest win in a T20.
Afghanistan had earlier posted a daunting total of 190-5 in its opening Group 2 match after skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bat.
“This was our plan, to bat first and put a big score,” Nabi said with a broad smile at the presentation ceremony. “Our openers started really well and finished the powerplay with a good score. … Everyone knows Rashid and Mujeeb are among the best (bowlers) in the world.”
All of Afghanistan’s top-order batsmen were among the runs and hit big sixes with Najibullah Zadran leading the way by scoring 59 off 34 balls.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (46) smashed four sixes while opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai (44) hit three sixes and three fours to set the tone for a big total.
Scotland had upset Bangladesh in the qualifiers and advanced with convincing victories over first-timer Papua New Guinea and co-host Oman.
Opener George Munsey (25) started the run-chase in style by reverse sweeping offspinner Nabi for a six and a four in the first over as they raced to 27-0 in three overs.
But the wheels came off quickly in the fourth over when Mujeeb grabbed three wickets off five deliveries.
Mujeeb had Coetzer clean bowled and followed it up by trapping Calum MacLeod lbw on the backfoot off the next ball. Richie Berrington was out soon after when Mujeeb had him leg before wicket — again on the backfoot.
Recalled wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad then took a stunning diving catch to his right to dismiss Matthew Cross off fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq before Mujeeb made it 37-5 in no time when he rattled Munsey’s stump in his next over.
Rashid resigned from the captaincy before the tournament, saying he had not been consulted on the team selection. But the legspinner bemused Scotland’s tailenders in a 14-ball spell by claiming four wickets to wrap up big win.
“We have been playing some good cricket to get here, but sometimes things don’t go to plan,” Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer said. “We have to keep moving forward.”
Pakistan, which routed archrival India by 10 wickets on Sunday, and Namibia are the other teams in the same group.