Ahmad Skaik shoots lowest round ever by an Emirati golfer on the European Tour

Ahmad Skaik has hit the best ever round by an Emirati golfer on the European Tour. (Getty Images Europe)
Ahmad Skaik has hit the best ever round by an Emirati golfer on the European Tour. (Getty Images Europe)
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Updated 11 November 2021

Ahmad Skaik shoots lowest round ever by an Emirati golfer on the European Tour

Ahmad Skaik has hit the best ever round by an Emirati golfer on the European Tour. (Getty Images Europe)
  • UAE’s top golfer makes five birdies on the way to a first round -4 at the Aviv Dubai Championship

DUBAI: UAE’s top-ranked golfer Ahmad Skaik has shot the lowest round ever by an Emirati golfer on the European Tour during the first round of the Aviv Dubai Championship. 

Skaik made five birdies around the Fire Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on his way to a near-flawless 68.

The 24-year-old, who kicked off proceedings hitting the first tee shot of the tournament this morning, received an invitation to the event following a strong showing at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship, where he produced the second-best result ever by an Emirati golfer.

“It’s hard to put it into words how it feels,” Skaik said. “Although I believed it before, now I have proof that my game can be up there with some of the best. I really could trust my game out there today which feels amazing, I think I hit 16 greens, so I felt in control of the ball.

“It was an honour to hit the first tee shot again here in my home country, for sure I was nervous, but I embraced it and made a good start to the day.”

He added: “To see my Dad’s smile at the end there means everything. My goal coming into this week was to make the cut and that remains the same. I've made a good start, but I need to now keep my head down and do more of the same tomorrow.”

The home favorite is playing alongside a strong field including previous Race to Dubai winners Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer, and defending champion Antoine Rozner, as well as Paul Casey, who boasts a world ranking of 27, and European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington. 

The Aviv Dubai Championships is the penultimate tournament on the 2021 European Tour schedule, preceding the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, where the top-50 players on the Race to Dubai rankings will battle it out for the $9 million prize pot and the European Number One crown.


Samia Khaled, named best goalkeeper in Saudi Women’s League, shares dream of turning pro

Saudi footballer Samia Khaled was named best goalkeeper in the inaugural Saudi Women’s League Championship. (Supplied)
Saudi footballer Samia Khaled was named best goalkeeper in the inaugural Saudi Women’s League Championship. (Supplied)
Updated 22 January 2022

Samia Khaled, named best goalkeeper in Saudi Women’s League, shares dream of turning pro

Saudi footballer Samia Khaled was named best goalkeeper in the inaugural Saudi Women’s League Championship. (Supplied)
  • She said she is proud to be part of the Al-Mamlaka side that won the inaugural SWL title this month, and would love to represent her country and play in Europe
  • Khaled named Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi, who plays for Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League, as one of her role models

RIYADH: Saudi footballer Samia Khaled, who was named best goalkeeper in the inaugural Saudi Women’s League Championship, said she is proud to be part of the Al-Mamlaka side that won the title this month.

Her personal award reflects the key role she played in her team during the tournament. In the final match against Al-Tahadi, for example, she kept a clean sheet as her side cruised to a 7-0 victory.

She said her ambition is to win more championships and develop her skills further in a bid to become a professional and play abroad one day, particularly in Europe.

Khaled lists Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi, who plays for Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League, as a role model and hopes that like him, she will have the chance to represent her country.

She thanked all those who have supported her football dreams, including family, friends and the fans who cheer her on when she plays. There was special thanks for Mohammed Khalfan, who has been her trainer for several years, from futsal level up to her current position.

She also had advice for other women in the country interested in building a career in the sport: “Female Saudi players need more experience and skills, and need to build their body strength and increase speed and power.”


Gerrard ‘shocked’ Benitez took Everton job

Gerrard ‘shocked’ Benitez took Everton job
Updated 21 January 2022

Gerrard ‘shocked’ Benitez took Everton job

Gerrard ‘shocked’ Benitez took Everton job
  • Benitez, who coached Gerrard for six years at Anfield, was sacked last weekend after just seven months in charge at Goodison Park
  • Gerrard makes his return to enemy territory on Saturday as Aston Villa manager

LIVERPOOL: Steven Gerrard has revealed his surprise that former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez took on the challenge of managing rivals Everton.
Benitez, who coached Gerrard for six years at Anfield, was sacked last weekend after just seven months in charge at Goodison Park.
The Spaniard’s appointment was unpopular among Everton fans from the beginning and he left with the club sitting 16th in the table after a run of one win in 13 games.
Gerrard makes his return to enemy territory on Saturday as Aston Villa manager, hoping to deepen Everton’s fears of being dragged into a relegation battle.
“I’m disappointed for Rafa because obviously I’ve got a relationship and I’ve got an awful lot of respect for him,” said Gerrard.
“I have to be honest, I thought it was a unique appointment at the time. I was surprised and shocked that Rafa wanted to go and have a go at that job.
“With his legacy and his relationship with Liverpool, that was a surprise.”
Duncan Ferguson will take temporary charge of the Toffees at the weekend and Gerrard is expecting a frosty reception as a Liverpool legend.
“Loads of abuse, loads of banter, which is fine, because it takes the heat off my players and they can focus on playing,” he added.
“My shoulders are broad enough and my skin’s thick enough to accept it. I enjoy that warm welcome and I’ve got no problem with it.”


Underperforming Egypt and Senegal look to Salah and Mane for goals

Underperforming Egypt and Senegal look to Salah and Mane for goals
Updated 21 January 2022

Underperforming Egypt and Senegal look to Salah and Mane for goals

Underperforming Egypt and Senegal look to Salah and Mane for goals
  • Salah and Mane netted once each in three group matches while receiving close attention and some rough treatment from opponents
  • Record seven-time champions Egypt face the Ivory Coast in the highlight of an eight-match schedule

YAOUNDE: Underperforming Egypt and Senegal hope Liverpool stars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane can recapture their Premier League form when the Africa Cup of Nations enters the last-16 stage in Cameroon.
Salah and Mane netted once each in three group matches while receiving close attention and some rough treatment from opponents aware of their scoring potential.
Record seven-time champions Egypt face the Ivory Coast in the highlight of an eight-match schedule spanning four days from Sunday having managed only solitary-goal wins over Guinea-Bissau and Sudan.
An Ivory Coast side including Sebastien Haller from Ajax and Nicolas Pepe from Arsenal were among the most impressive qualifiers from the six groups and eliminated holders Algeria with a 3-1 triumph.
Senegal face dogged Cape Verde, whose forward Garry Rodrigues scored one the best of the 68 goals in the first round with an exquisite back-heel past Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana.
Here, AFP Sport looks ahead to the round of 16 with Gabon, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Senegal, Morocco, Ivory Coast and Mali the possible winners.
Gabon, often flops at the finals, impressed when holding Morocco despite the absence of stars Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mario Lemina and Denis Bouanga due to the coronavirus.
Jim Allevinah is a clinical finisher and he could give the Gabonese the edge over a Burkina Faso team that needs to improve with a heavy burden on the shoulders of Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore.
Form and tradition suggest Nigeria, the only nation to win all three group matches, will be too strong for opponents who fell to Mali and minnows Gambia in the first round.
Nigeria have never lost to Tunisia at the Cup of Nations and remain in Garoua while their rivals spent Friday relocating from Limbe at the other end of Cameroon, leaving them little time to prepare.
Guinea are under severe pressure with junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya telling the squad they will have to repay the cost of state-funded preparations if they do not bring the trophy back to Conakry.
The absence of suspended captain, Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, will weaken Guinea and offer hope to Musa Barrow-inspired Gambia, whose performances have mocked being ranked 150th in the world.
After a stunning victory that eliminated four-time champions Ghana, Comoros tackle hosts Cameroon, who boast the leading scorer after the group stage in five-goal Vincent Aboubakar.
“Nothing is impossible in football,” says Comoros coach Amir Abdou, and his team have clinical forward in Ahmed Mogni from the French third division and Serbia-based El Fardou Ben Mohamed.
Unpredictable Cape Verde battled to overcome Ethiopia, lost to Burkina Faso and held star-studded Cameroon while coach Bubista remains at home in the island nation due to Covid-19.
Kalidou Koulibaly-captained Senegal have disappointed, needing 97 minutes to beat Zimbabwe through a Mane penalty then held to goalless draws by Guinea and Malawi.
It is 46 years since Morocco won their only Cup of Nations title and hopes are high that the Vahid Halilhodzic-coached class of ‘22 can go all the way.
Malawi have an impressive forward in Frank Mhango and run relentlessly, but it is hard to imagine the Flames succeeding despite a dramatic recent improvement under a new coach, Romanian Mario Marinica.
Two-time champions Ivory Coast outclassed Algeria and will be favorites to win the match of the round despite having succeeded only once in 10 previous Cup of Nations clashes against Egypt.
But Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz remains hopeful, saying “we have been concentrating on our finishing. Sometimes we try too hard to score and complicate matters.”
Cameroon has been a happy hunting ground for Mali — they achieved their highest Cup of Nations finish of second place 50 years ago and were 2020 African Nations Championship runners-up there.
They won Group F thanks largely to the penalty-taking of top forward Ibrahima Kone while the well organized Equatoguineans exceeded expectations by finishing second in Group E.


Lindelof to miss Man United game after break-in at his home

Lindelof to miss Man United game after break-in at his home
Updated 21 January 2022

Lindelof to miss Man United game after break-in at his home

Lindelof to miss Man United game after break-in at his home
  • Lindelof’s house was targeted while the Sweden defender was playing in the 3-1 win over Brentford in London on Wednesday
  • His wife and children were in the house when the burglary took place

MANCHESTER, England: Defender Victor Lindelof will miss Manchester United's Premier League game against West Ham on Saturday in order to support his family following a break-in at their house.
Lindelof’s house in the northwest of England was targeted while the Sweden defender was playing in the 3-1 win over Brentford in London on Wednesday.
His wife and children were in the house when the burglary took place.
“I was home alone with both kids but we managed to hide and lock ourselves in a room before they entered our house," Maja Nilsson Lindelof, the defender's wife, wrote in an Instagram story.
“We are OK under the circumstances but it was obviously a very traumatic and scary moment for both me and my little kids. We are now in Sweden and are spending some time off with our families.”
United manager Ralf Rangnick confirmed Friday that Lindelof will not play against West Ham.
“I spoke with him at length on our flight back home from London and also this morning we spoke for about 20 minutes, 25 minutes,” Rangnick said. “He told me what had actually happened and that this was really a traumatic event, especially for his wife and even the 3-year-old son.
“He said to me that he right now needs to stay at home. He doesn’t want to leave his wife and his family on their own, which I can fully understand being a father of two children myself. We agreed that he will not be training today and also not be on duty tomorrow for the game.”


Eddie Howe confirms Newcastle United will stage warm weather training camp in Saudi Arabia

Manager Eddie Howe described the trip to Saudi Arabia as “vitally important” for his team. (AFP)
Manager Eddie Howe described the trip to Saudi Arabia as “vitally important” for his team. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2022

Eddie Howe confirms Newcastle United will stage warm weather training camp in Saudi Arabia

Manager Eddie Howe described the trip to Saudi Arabia as “vitally important” for his team. (AFP)
  • The Magpies will fly to Riyadh following their game on Saturday

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has confirmed Newcastle United will visit Riyadh for a warm weather training camp next week.

As revealed by Arab News last week the Magpies will fly to Saudi Arabia following their Premier League game against Leeds United on Saturday.

Newcastle do not have another Premier League game until they host Duncan Ferguson’s Everton at St James’ Park on February 8, with next weekend free due to the fact they were dumped out of the FA Cup by lower-league Cambridge United earlier this month.

Howe described the trip to Saudi Arabia as “vitally important” for his team.

“Going away will encourage unity,” he said. “It will be a work training camp — we will be training, working and playing a game. I want people to know we are going to be very active.”

When asked whether the long-haul flights were a concern — they face a near 14-hour return journey to visit the home of new majority owners PIF — Howe said: “I think it is all manageable. The distances aren’t too far. We have a big gap between games and we are comfortable with the impact that will have on the players. I think it is a worthwhile exercise. The facilities will be first-class. I think we will be well looked after.

“We will go away, work hard and hopefully come back with a more united squad,” he continued.

While Howe stressed that the visit was a work trip, it will also double as a PR exercise.

When asked whether the players would meet key members of the Saudi establishment, Howe said: “I don’t know any of those details at the moment.”

Meanwhile, Howe admitted it has been a frustrating week on the transfer front for United. The Magpies have failed to add any new players since securing the capture of Chris Wood eight days ago.

Howe accepts, however, that it is tougher to do deals in this winter transfer window than ever before, especially with clubs reluctant to let players go in case of a COVID outbreak.

“It has been a slightly frustrating week for us in the transfer market,” the head coach said. “We know we’re against a deadline and everyone at the club is trying to improve the squad. We are working very hard behind the scenes, but it has been a fruitless search this week.”

Howe, who is pushing hard to sign Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, continued: “It has been a very difficult window for everybody, but more so (for us) as the takeover has elevated what other clubs think Newcastle can pay.”

One thing is for certain though, United will continue to push for new signings to aid their relegation fight, right up to the deadline on January 31.

“We are keen to add players in certain areas to strengthen. Usually there is a late flurry and it is always hard to predict what will happen later on. But we will be trying to add to the squad right until the last day,” said Howe. “We have been working behind the scenes tirelessly. Everyone associated with recruitment has been working every hour to try and get the right outcome for the football club.

“I have always said, the main focus should never go away from the players that we have in the building — they are the guys who will take on Leeds and will make the difference,” he continued. “If we can add support to that, that’s great.”