Arsene Wenger to coach combined Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr team against PSG at Riyadh Season Cup

Arsene Wenger to coach combined Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr team against PSG at Riyadh Season Cup
Arsene Wenger won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during his 22 years at Arsenal. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 October 2021

Arsene Wenger to coach combined Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr team against PSG at Riyadh Season Cup

Arsene Wenger to coach combined Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr team against PSG at Riyadh Season Cup
  • Match will be played in the third week of January and will mark the first time French team has played in the Kingdom

The combined Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr team that will face Paris Saint-Germain in the Riyadh Season Cup in January will be picked and coached by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Arabic sports daily Arriyadiyah reported on Sunday night.

The announcement was made on Arriyadiyah’s Twitter account.

Wenger has not coached professionally since he left Arsenal in the summer of 2018. In his 22 years at the North London club, he won three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups, a record for an individual manager.

It will be the first time that the French giants play in Saudi Arabia, and the match against the combined team of two of the Kingdom’s biggest clubs is expected to be one of the top events of Riyadh Season, held in the third week of January, 2022. The event attracted more than 10 million visitors during its first edition in 2019.

Riyadh Season returns this fall as one of the biggest global entertainment festivals, spread across 14 different zones in the capital, and featuring a diverse selection of different events and experiences. It will officially start in October 2021 and run until March 2022.


Barcelona out of Champions League in loss to Bayern Munich

Barcelona out of Champions League in loss to Bayern Munich
Updated 09 December 2021

Barcelona out of Champions League in loss to Bayern Munich

Barcelona out of Champions League in loss to Bayern Munich

MUNICH: Barcelona will not play in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time in 18 years after a 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday ensured the Catalan club was eliminated from European soccer’s premier competition.
Barcelona drops into the Europa League playoffs after finishing third in Group E, thanks to Benfica’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the other game of the evening.
That ended a Barcelona campaign which would have been unthinkable in the club’s heyday with Lionel Messi up front and Pep Guardiola as coach from 2008 through 2012. The group stage began with a 3-0 loss to Bayern at the Camp Nou and got worse with a 3-0 defeat and 0-0 draw against Benfica. Barcelona scored only two goals in six games, both against last-place Dynamo, and conceded nine.
“We start a new era, from zero, from here, to work hard and to recover Barca and to put Barca in the place that we deserve, that is in the top of the Champions League,” coach Xavi Hernández told broadcaster DAZN. “This is our reality. We are out of Champions League, we are in Europa League, but this is not the place of Barcelona.”
The five-time European champion last failed to make the Champions League last 16 in 2003-04. That season, Barcelona missed the Champions League entirely and played in what was then the UEFA Cup, thanks to a poor Spanish league finish the season before.
Defeat in the snow in Munich will deepen Barcelona’s already overwhelming financial problems as it misses out on lucrative prize money and exposure for sponsors. Sitting seventh in La Liga means Barcelona may not even qualify for next year’s competition.
“We need to work hard, many things that put Barcelona in this situation. But this is our reality. I cannot say anything else,” Xavi said. “We need to win Europa League, work hard for recovering points in La Liga, win the cup, win the Super Cup, this is what Barcelona deserve ... We will try to work hard. We have many injuries. Maybe we can sign some players now in January. Let’s see.”
Unlike the hammer blow of Barcelona’s 8-2 loss to Bayern in August 2020, this time the German champions calmly took their time dismantling a Barcelona team which only registered two shots on target.
The first goal Barcelona conceded Wednesday was one of fine margins, with goal-line technology required to show Thomas Müller’s looping header had crossed the line before Ronald Araujo belatedly attempted to clear.
The second was a simple goalkeeping error as Marc-André ter Stegen let Leroy Sané’s speculative long-range shot bounce off his arm and in. That left Xavi’s team 2-0 down at halftime and needing either its own stunning comeback or a similar feat from last-place Dynamo against Benfica.
The deficit worsened in the 62nd minute when Alphonso Davies, the Canadian left-back whose pace had caused problems all game, cut the ball back from the touchline for Jamal Musiala, who applied a simple finish from within a crowd of Barcelona players.
Playing at home in an empty stadium because of new pandemic-related restrictions, Bayern was already assured of qualifying as the group winner and finished with six wins from six games, matching Liverpool and Ajax on a perfect record this season. Coach Julian Nagelsmann told DAZN his team could have scored “more than three” goals against Barcelona.
Bayern is the only German team in the round of 16 after Borussia Dortmund, Leipzig and Wolfsburg all fell short in the group stage. The last time that happened was 2017-18.
Besides the shock of not qualifying, Barcelona may have to deal with an injury for Jordi Alba after the full-back limped off with an apparent thigh problem.


Qatari rally driver Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah boosts FIA World Cup hopes with Hail stage win

Qatari rally driver Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah boosts FIA World Cup hopes with Hail stage win
Updated 09 December 2021

Qatari rally driver Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah boosts FIA World Cup hopes with Hail stage win

Qatari rally driver Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah boosts FIA World Cup hopes with Hail stage win
  • The Toyota Gazoo Racing duo steered their Toyota Hilux to a time of 3hr 20min 01sec

HAIL: Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah and French navigator Matthieu Baumel comfortably won the opening 258.14 km selective section of the Hail Cross-Country Rally early on Wednesday.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing duo steered their Toyota Hilux to a time of 3hr 20min 01sec and finished 6min 05sec in front of stage runner-up Denis Krotov.

Al-Attiyah’s stage performance boosted his already overwhelming odds of clinching the FIA World Cup title and, heading into the night halt in Hail, the Qatari found himself 22min 16sec ahead of Toyota team-mate and title rival Lucio Alvarez.

“We started first of the T1 cars, but the T1 2022 specification cars started before us,” Al-Attiyah’s co-driver Baumel said.

“We passed all three of them during the day and we opened the road half the way. It was not an easy stage. The first part was more navigation and off-track and the second part was faster. It was a nice day and we had a good result. We need to win two stages to get the World Cup. That is the goal for this rally.”

The X-raid Mini Buggies of Jakub Przygonski and Sebastien Halpern were third and fifth, sandwiching Vladimir Vasilyev’s BMW X3 in fourth.

“It was quite a nice stage with a lot of camel grass and it was quite soft,” said Przygonski. “We made a navigation mistake and got lost, but we enjoyed it. It was nice.”


Sixth Saudi Open golf championship gets underway

Sixth Saudi Open golf championship gets underway
Updated 09 December 2021

Sixth Saudi Open golf championship gets underway

Sixth Saudi Open golf championship gets underway
  • Saudi participants include professional player Othman Almulla, along with national team members Abdulrahman Al-Mansour, Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif
  • Chief Operating Officer of Golf Saudi Ed Edwards: Our vision and the goal of the mass participation programme is the training of Saudi youth to transform the golfing landscape

RIYADH: The sixth Saudi Open golf tournament tees off today at Riyadh Golf Club.

Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal, advisor to the Saudi Golf Federation, and Mohammed Al-Issa, Executive Manager of the Saudi Golf Federation, oversaw the launch of the championship at a press conference yesterday. The tournament will finish on Dec. 11.

During the briefing reporters were told that participation in the tournament is open to all professional and amateur golf players in the Middle East and North Africa who are registered with any golf club.

Al-Issa said: “We are proud to announce the launch of the sixth Saudi Open, which will give Saudi and Arab golf players the opportunity to participate in sports competitions of this kind. The events are a great opportunity for players to develop their skill levels and interact with players from different countries in the Middle East and North Africa in a competitive environment.”

The tournament is expected to attract wide interest from golf fans inside and outside the Kingdom. The Saudi Open will see the participation of leading players from the Gulf states and other Arab countries.

Saudi participants, who have all gone from strength to strength in recent years, as golf gains popularity in the Kingdom, include the only Saudi professional player Othman Almulla, along with national team members Abdulrahman Al-Mansour, Faisal Salhab and Saud Al-Sharif.

All four players will be in strong contention following their performances on the Asian Tour in Thailand last week, where they were in action at the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship and the Laguna Phuket Championship.

A lot will be at stake as the Saudi Open also represents a qualification opportunity for the 2022 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, which will be held next February. 

In a reply to Arab News, Ed Edwards, Chief Operating Officer of Golf Saudi, said: “Our vision and the goal of the mass participation programme is the training of Saudi youth to transform the golfing landscape. Saudi Arabia will be a regional sports hub.”

The Saudi Open is one of the events that Golf Saudi holds annually to raise awareness of the game in the Kingdom and to develop home-grown future talent. By working with other sports federations and the Ministry of Sport, Golf Saudi, which is the commercial development arm of the Saudi Golf Federation, is looking to underline the wider benefit of sports participation more generally as part of Saudi Arabia’s progress towards its Vision 2030 goals to improve its citizens quality of life.

Combined with grass roots training and education programmes that introduce people to the game at the earliest opportunity and with the greatest ease, Golf Saudi is committed to delivering a dynamic national development programme that transforms the golfing landscape.


Conte says 8 Spurs players, 5 staff members have coronavirus

Conte says 8 Spurs players, 5 staff members have coronavirus
Updated 08 December 2021

Conte says 8 Spurs players, 5 staff members have coronavirus

Conte says 8 Spurs players, 5 staff members have coronavirus
  • “Every day we are having people with COVID,” Conte said at a news conference
  • UEFA rules state a game must go ahead as long as a club has at least 13 senior players available

LONDON: Eight Tottenham players and five members of staff at the club have tested positive for the coronavirus, manager Antonio Conte said Wednesday.
“Every day we are having people with COVID,” Conte said at a news conference a day before a match against French team Rennes in the Europa Conference League.
Conte said he has 11 players available for the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
UEFA rules state a game must go ahead as long as a club has at least 13 senior players available, including at least one goalkeeper.
Conte said “everyone is a bit scared” at the club because people are coming into contact with others who have tested negative but who later test positive.
“At the end of the training session today, again one player is positive, another member of staff is positive,” he said. “Tomorrow, who? Me? Another player? Another member of staff? We continue in this way but the situation is serious.”
Conte said he is concerned players and staff members at Tottenham might be passing on the virus to their loved ones.
“We have families, we have contact with our families when we come back home,” a visibly emotional Conte said. “It is a situation that makes me upset.
“Now for sure we are bit scared, because tomorrow we don’t know what happens.”
It has been reported in the British media that Tottenham has asked for its Premier League game against Brighton on Sunday to be postponed. Conte did not confirm that at the news conference.
Six Premier League matches were postponed last season because of virus outbreaks at clubs.
Tottenham is in second place in its group in the Conference League — the third-tier European competition — and is tied on points with third-place Vitesse. Rennes has already won the group with one game left to play.
The runner-up qualifies for a playoff for the last 16 against a team that will drop down from the Europa League.


Tickets go on sale for Formula E season opener in Diriyah

Tickets go on sale for Formula E season opener in Diriyah
Updated 08 December 2021

Tickets go on sale for Formula E season opener in Diriyah

Tickets go on sale for Formula E season opener in Diriyah
  • The first and second rounds of the eighth season of the electric car championship, in January 2022, will again be night races
  • 22 drivers, including Sam Bird, reigning world champion Nyck de Vries, and new drivers Antonio Giovinazzi, Dan Ticktum and Oliver Askew will tackle the fast and technical circuit

RIYADH: Tickets have gone on sale for the season-opening Diriyah Formula E night-race double header in January. The Kingdom is once again hosting the first and second rounds of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

The ticket-sales announcement was made by the Saudi Ministry of Sports during an event in At-Turaif, in historic Diriyah, that also featured Alberto Longo, the co-founder and chief championship officer of Formula E, Carlo Boutagy, the founder and CEO of event promoter CBX, and British driver Sam Bird, who won the round two race in Diriyah last year.

“We are pleased to announce the launch of tickets for the Formula E race in its first and second rounds, which will start at the end of January 2022,” said Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.

“We look forward to doing what is required to ensure the event runs in the best possible way, to host sports fans from all over the world, and to welcome them to our country to enjoy the strong competition and the events accompanying the race.”

Tickets for the races, which will take place on January 28 and 29, start from SR150 ($40), with 10,000 grandstand tickets available.

Twenty-two drivers, including Bird, reigning world champion Nyck de Vries, and new drivers Antonio Giovinazzi, Dan Ticktum and Oliver Askew will tackle the fast and technical circuit which, like last year, will be illuminated by LED lights during the only night races of the Formula E season.

“Racing under the lights of the Diriyah E-Prix is unique and provides challenges unlike any other race in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship,” said Bird, who drives for Jaguar TCS Racing.

“The Diriyah Circuit is technical, fast and challenging all at the same time and I look forward to returning for the races in January 2022.”

Longo described the Diriyah E-Prix as “the perfect opening race” for the eighth season of the Formula E World Championship, and said it will inspire new generations to “embrace” the electric car series.

Boutagy added: “We’re thrilled to work alongside the Ministry of Sport and Formula E to host the opening rounds of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in January 2022.

“We will soon be announcing the international music artists who will headline our post-race concerts, and encourage fans to buy tickets on sale now to ensure best views of the racing and post-race entertainment.”

Visit diriyah-eprix.com for tickets and more information.