PSG star Neymar out for up to 8 weeks with sprained ankle

PSG star Neymar out for up to 8 weeks with sprained ankle
PSG’s Neymar looks on during the French League 1 against Saint-Etienne in Saint-Etienne, central France on Sunday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 29 November 2021

PSG star Neymar out for up to 8 weeks with sprained ankle

PSG star Neymar out for up to 8 weeks with sprained ankle
  • Neymar tore ligaments in his ankle, PSG said on Monday

PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar will be out for up to eight weeks with a sprained left ankle.
Neymar was taken off on a stretcher during the French league leader’s 3-1 win at Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
He also tore ligaments in his ankle, PSG said in a statement on Monday.
It is the latest in a long list of injuries.
Neymar was stretchered off last December with a left ankle injury.
Since joining PSG in 2017 for a world record 222 million euros ($250 million), he has also had rib, groin and adductor injuries as well as breaking his right foot in February 2018.


Runners get set to ‘race through history’ at Pyramids Half Marathon

Runners get set to ‘race through history’ at Pyramids Half Marathon
Updated 11 sec ago

Runners get set to ‘race through history’ at Pyramids Half Marathon

Runners get set to ‘race through history’ at Pyramids Half Marathon

Over the years, several sports events have had the privilege of being staged by the resplendent Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

From squash to tennis to most recently a 3x3 basketball tournament, a few athletes have gotten the rare opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the last remaining Great Wonder of the Ancient World.

The running community in Egypt, and beyond, has been afforded that golden chance since 2019, thanks to the introduction of The TriFactory’s Pyramids Half Marathon, which returns to the Giza Plateau for a fourth edition on December 10.

Some 4,000 runners from more than 80 countries took part in the inaugural staging of the race three years ago, held across a trio of distances: full marathon, half marathon and 10k. The marathon was won by Greg Billington, an American Olympian who competed in triathlon in Rio 2016 and won Paralympic gold as a guide for Brad Snyder in the visually-impaired category of the paratriathlon event in Tokyo 2020.

 

 

Despite its incredible landscape, scenic coasts, and great weather, Egypt is not necessarily a destination for runners from across the globe but the people behind The TriFactory are one of the main driving forces looking to change that.

Ayman Hakky, the co-founder of The TriFactory, a sports events management company specialized in endurance sports, staged Egypt’s first commercial triathlon back in 2014 in the Red Sea resort town of El Gouna.

Originally a water polo player and a footballer, a knee injury steered Hakky away from his chosen sports and pushed him towards endurance races. He fell in love with triathlon and began participating in events worldwide, in the process forming a team of amateurs that trained together in Cairo for various races. The team was fittingly called Train for Aim.

From Trinidad and Tobago to Morocco to Portugal to the UAE, Hakky flew everywhere to participate in races and his team eventually completed a full Ironman.

“It became very costly to do all that traveling and I started to wonder why don’t we have this kind of quality here in Egypt?” Hakky told Arab News in an interview in Cairo.

A first step

Using the knowledge he gathered from attending proper races abroad, but without any practical experience as an organizer, Hakky staged his very first event, the Gouna Triathlon. He had no expectations and thought only the 20 or 30 people he trains with at Gezira Club would show up; instead, 200 participants signed up from various running communities across Cairo.

“All of a sudden it was a major start for us and I had no intention of doing this as a business,” said Hakky. “I just made a few calls so they can close a street for us in El Gouna, and it wasn’t at a professional standard of organization at all.

“But I realized the business potential from this event. We finished this one-off event and people were already asking me, ‘What’s next?’ I realized a community has been created and these 200 people all posted on social media, and each one of them had two or three friends that wanted to come to our next event.

“So our next event was at least double in size. Three months later, we held an event in Sahl Hasheesh and 400 people took part. Things kept doubling in size, spiralling, until we gained lots of experience.”

The TriFactory was founded in 2015 by Hakky and Mahmoud Abdelhakim, and soon they were organizing triathlons and marathons all over Egypt, from Aswan to Alexandria to Sharm El Sheikh.

 

 

‘Major turning point’

It was Abdelhakim who first got the idea to stage a marathon by the Pyramids, knowing it was the natural next step for him and his partners.

Hakky was worried about the logistics of it all, the permits they would need from the government and the hassle of trying to organize something big at such an iconic location.

But they went for it, and gave it the slogan, ‘Race through history’ – reminding the runners they would be getting such a historic landmark for a backdrop. In February 2019, the Pyramids Marathon came to life, and it survived a terrible sandstorm that threatened the success of the event.

“The Pyramids Marathon was a major turning point for us. 4,000 people took part across three distances and so many different nationalities turned up. It was a great start but it was a very difficult day for us,” reflects Hakky.

The tough weather conditions where overwhelming for Hakky and his partners but overall they knew they had started something special and the participants felt it too.

“What I generally like about this event is that the course is really nice, the vibe, the people… conditions were tough in the first one and the weather made things quite chaotic, yet everyone loved it because it was the first time we got the opportunity to run by the Pyramids,” said Nayera Helmy, an amateur runner who has been an active member of the running and triathlon community in Egypt since 2013.

Helmy did not sign up for the 2020 edition of the Pyramids event but returned last year and is currently getting ready for her third outing in Giza.

“When I took part in 2021, I saw how the organization massively improved. Everything that needed tweaking was taken care of,” she said.

“The course got much closer to the Pyramids; instead of having this massive uphill during the race; they reversed the direction of the route so it’s more downhill for us; everyone is cheering, a lot of participants, a lot of international runners… when you’re running, you can see the look on the faces of international runners who cannot believe they are running by the Pyramids. It was so nice to see.”

 

 

Presidential backing

From the second year, organizers made the strategic decision of scaling back the event to a half marathon, which requires fewer hours of road closures and is far easier to manage.

The demand for a full marathon in Egypt was also not very high, so since 2020 the event has comprised of three distances: a half marathon, a 10k and a 5k, which opened up participation for people who were keen to run or walk a shorter distance.

“This is our fourth year. We’ve gone from strength to strength and this year, we are under the auspices of the Egyptian Presidency, which is huge,” said Hakky.

With the support of the Presidency and Ministry of Sports behind them, The TriFactory have high hopes of expanding the race in the future, knowing that no major city can host a proper marathon without the backing of crucial governmental entities.

“We’re very excited about this step because we’re ambitious about the possibility of bringing it back to a full marathon in the future; we can start to aggressively promote the event abroad, so we can reach the numbers we see in events around the world,” said Hakky.

“The 4,000 participants we get is nothing compared to global numbers. Even the Beirut Marathon, which is a role model for me, it attracts 50,000 participants. And Lebanon as a country has some tough circumstances.

“But the entire country is behind the event. All institutions, the military, the presidency, the tourism board, they get behind it and they lock Beirut down for a half day and they stage the marathon.”

Message from Bolt

The TriFactory pride themselves on following international standards when it comes to staging their events, and that level of professionalism is what attracted so many people to sign up, and saw several sponsors knock on their doors.

Puma, their platinum sponsor this year, got their superstar ambassador Usain Bolt to post a video message wishing the Pyramids Half Marathon runners good luck, and giving them some advice for race day.

“Now we are dreaming that maybe Puma can attract him to attend the event. There’s actually talk of him possibly coming,” said a hopeful Hakky.

While eight-time Olympic gold medalist Bolt might not be a shoo-in, there will be an Olympic silver medalist lining up at the Pyramids this December, with Egyptian pentathlete Ahmed Elgendy, who was runner-up in Tokyo 2020, confirming his participation.

Registered for the 10k but with the possibility of moving up to the half marathon if he feels up for it, Elgendy doesn’t need to train over long distances in his main sport, the modern pentathlon, but says he is a runner at heart and has been keen to take part in the Pyramids Half Marathon.

“The first TriFactory event I attended was their recent Soma Bay Endurance Festival and I was really impressed by how well-organized it was. I really liked the energy of the people behind TriFactory and could tell they really want to do something special,” Elgendy told Arab News.

“I’ve seen events here in Cairo where people are running between cars, which is not safe. But they’re not like that. They know what they’re doing and are trying hard to match international standards in everything. In the process, I feel they’re also educating the local community about how an event like this should be run.”

The appeal of running by the Pyramids is not exclusive to visitors from abroad; it is a special occasion for locals as well.

“I haven’t even visited the Pyramids since I was like six years old. So this is a great opportunity for me, to visit the Pyramids and run there,” added Elgendy, who isn’t setting a specific target for himself this race and is doing it just for fun.

 

 

‘Running at home is special’

Helmy is an experienced runner who has done both the Paris and New York marathons in the past. While taking part in such iconic long-standing events around the world has been incredible, she admits that running at home, in Egypt, has a special feeling to it.

She remembers the early days when the endurance sports scene in Cairo was in its infancy stages, where participants would complete the race then rush back to set up water stations for those who haven’t finished yet. Things have massively improved since then.

“We now have a lot of opportunities to run in Egypt. It’s very nice to run with your own community. Running in international marathons abroad is very nice, but ultimately, you’re running with strangers, or just two or three people who have made the trip with you,” said Helmy.

“In Egypt, the nice thing is that you’re encouraging other runners from the community to run with you. So during a run, you can spot people who you have personally helped get into the sport, or encouraged to participate, that’s a nice feeling to be part of that.

Nayera Helmy, an amateur runner who has been an active member of the running and triathlon community in Egypt since 2013.

“Plus it’s fun to run with people you know. So running in Egypt is always special, and it gives us a chance to run in places we don’t regularly visit in Egypt.”

For Hakky and his partners, the goal is to establish the Pyramids Half Marathon as a staple on the international running calendar and to hit 10,000 participants (the roads around the Pyramids are quite narrow and can’t handle much more than that).

Hakky dreams of a scenario where Cairo streets can shut down for half a day so that runners can start elsewhere in the city and make their way towards a finish line at the Pyramids, which would be the ultimate reward at the end of a full marathon.

“The advancements made in transportation and the underground system in Cairo is allowing us to dream of a scenario like that,” he added.

He also explained that the ‘Race through history’ isn’t just a slogan. The idea is to hold a series of running events at different historical sites across Egypt. The concept has already started to take shape as The TriFactory staged a 5k at the Saqqara Pyramid earlier this year, introducing runners to the unique Step Pyramid of Djoser.

In total, The TriFactory hold between 10 to 15 events annually, with lots of room for growth. But the heart of their business definitely lies on the Giza Plateau.

“The Pyramids Half Marathon has become our biggest event for sure in terms of size and exposure and everything. So long-term we want to invest more effort in this event because it has become our flagship event,” he concluded.

The deadline for registration for the Pyramids Half Marathon is November 30. You can sign up for the event here.


Saudi national team footballer refutes Rolls Royce prize rumors

Saudi national team footballer refutes Rolls Royce prize rumors
Updated 38 min 5 sec ago

Saudi national team footballer refutes Rolls Royce prize rumors

Saudi national team footballer refutes Rolls Royce prize rumors
  • Fake news stories have been circulating that each player was given a fancy car after the impressive win over Argentina

DUBAI: One of Saudi Arabia’s national team footballers refuted rumors circulating that each player was rewarded a Rolls Royce for beating Argentina 2-1 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 group stages match. 
“We are here to serve our country and do the best, so that’s our biggest achievement,” said Saleh Alshehri during a press conference. 
Alshehri also explained to the journalist asking the question that serving his country was the only reward he needs.

 


Sluggish England frustrated in US stalemate

Sluggish England frustrated in US stalemate
Updated 26 November 2022

Sluggish England frustrated in US stalemate

Sluggish England frustrated in US stalemate
  • Southgate's men would have been guaranteed to advance from Group B with a victory in their second game
  • Having thrashed Iran 6-2 on Monday, England lacked the urgency they showed in their opening game and were booed off at full-time

AL KHOR, Qatar: England missed a chance to book their place in the World Cup last 16 as Gareth Southgate’s side produced a limp display in their 0-0 draw against the United States on Friday.
Southgate’s men would have been guaranteed to advance from Group B with a victory in their second game of the tournament, but they rarely troubled a determined US team.
Having thrashed Iran 6-2 on Monday, England lacked the urgency they showed in their opening game and were booed off at full-time.
They managed just one shot on target and could easily have conceded in the first half when the US were in control for long periods at the Al Bayt Stadium.
For the third time in three World Cup meetings with the US, England failed to live up to their status as favorites.
After a shocking defeat in the 1950 tournament and a 1-1 draw in 2010, this was another defiant American effort against England, cooling some of the hype around the Three Lions following the Iran rout.
Although it was an extremely underwhelming performance from England, they are still in control of their own destiny.
A draw in their final group game against Wales on November 29 would ensure England progress to the knockout stages, while a victory would seal first place.
The US, who have drawn their first two games, play Iran on the same day knowing a win would send them into last 16.
Gregg Berhalter’s group are the second youngest team at the World Cup, but a day after America celebrated Thanksgiving they left sluggish England looking like they were the ones who had indulged in too much turkey.
With Harry Kane and Harry Maguire recovered from an ankle injury and illness respectively, England named an unchanged team for the first time since the 2018 World Cup semifinal defeat against Croatia.
But, whereas England dominated possession against timid Iran from the opening moments, they found the US far more willing to press higher up the pitch.
The US desire to engage England briefly left space in behind them and Jude Bellingham’s buccaneering run and pass freed Bukayo Saka down the right side of the US area.
Saka’s cross reached Kane, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Walker Zimmerman.
That near-miss proved a mirage in the desert for England as Hajji Wright, a surprise selection in place of Josh Sargent, had the Americans’ first sight of goal with a well-timed run into the area for a header that whistled wide.
It was a warning that the US could trouble England and moments later Weston McKennie should have put them ahead.
Timothy Weah’s cross from wide on the right eluded the flat-footed England defense and the unmarked McKennie pulled the trigger from 10 yards, only to fire just wide of the relieved Pickford’s goal.
Showing no signs of being intimidated by England, Berhalter’s side were inches away from turning the enterprising display into a stunning lead when Christian Pulisic jinked into space and lashed a rising drive against the crossbar from just inside the area.
Giving the ball away far too easily and labored in their build-up play, England looked rattled and Pulisic tested their fraying nerves with a header that glanced wide.
In a rare moment of menace from England, Saka’s pass found Mason Mount and the Chelsea’s midfielder low drive from 20 yards brought a first save from US keeper Matt Turner.
Epitomising the US spirit that was such a contrast to England’s lethargy, Tyler Adams crunched into a tackle on Saka, winning the ball and roaring in delight afterwards.
England remained stuck in first gear yet Kane nearly snatched an undeserved winner in stoppage time when he headed wide from Luke Shaw’s free-kick.


Germany face Spain with spectre of early World Cup exit looming

Germany face Spain with spectre of early World Cup exit looming
Updated 26 November 2022

Germany face Spain with spectre of early World Cup exit looming

Germany face Spain with spectre of early World Cup exit looming
  • Germans were hammered by some observers for losing focus on the football when they should be concentrating on avoiding a second successive group stage exit in a World Cup
  • “Really, our focus is 100 percent on football, nothing else,” Havertz said in a pre-match press conference

DOHA: Just one match into the Qatar World Cup, Germany face what amounts to a must-win clash against Spain on Sunday, a team they have not beaten in a competitive fixture since 1988.
Before Germany were stunned 2-1 by Japan in their opening match, the team faced heavy criticism for backtracking on a promise to wear a rainbow “OneLove” armband in support of diversity and human rights.
Their response was powerful — a team photo before the Japan match in which all 11 players covered their mouths, suggesting they had been silenced by FIFA, who had threatened on-field sanctions for anyone wearing the armband.
But after Japan scored two late goals to beat Hansi Flick’s team, the Germans were hammered by some observers for losing focus on the football when they should be concentrating on avoiding a second successive group stage exit in a World Cup.
On Friday, Chelsea striker Kai Havertz said the players were holding onto their beliefs but knew the challenge ahead, especially against a Spain team that steamrollered Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening game.
“Everyone knows our point of view and how we think,” Havertz said in a pre-match press conference.
“Really, our focus is 100 percent on football, nothing else. We just said what we think, what our point of view is, everyone knows that, and now it is about playing football.”
With supermarket chain Rewe pulling their sponsorship and with TV ratings for the Japan game the lowest in Germany for a World Cup in more than 30 years, Havertz recognized that the challenges were not just on the field, saying: “I know not everyone is behind us.”
Havertz revealed the squad and Flick held a wide-ranging team meeting on Thursday, admitting “it was time to tell ourselves the truth.”
Havertz said “everyone left the meeting knowing what’s going on.”
Sitting alongside Havertz, midfielder Julian Brandt said “we had a very good exchange. All of us left the conversation feeling like we had the determination to win the game.”
The importance of the Spain match at the Al Bayt Stadium cannot be underestimated — national squad manager and 1996 Euros winner Oliver Bierhoff has asked what another early exit would mean for the future of football in Germany.
Speaking with Germany TV network ARD on Friday, Bierhoff said losing “our first final” in Qatar would have widespread ramifications for the sport.
“What does it mean for German football? For the further development?” Bierhoff asked.
“And if you go a little deeper: (what does it mean) for the investment we have to make to stay competitive (and) to have new players in eight or ten years?“
Far from being haunted by the ghosts of their early exit in Russia however, Havertz said the match could represent “a turnaround” for the under-fire side, saying “we all dreamed of playing these games.”
“Now we are in a bad moment, but I think that can switch around quite fast — if we win the game on Sunday.”
Captain Manuel Neuer on Friday said Sunday’s match was “a huge chance,” emphasising the side could learn from Russia “we blew it once and now we know how not to do it.”
Brandt agreed.
“Spain come to the stadium on Sunday on the back of a 7-0 victory but it is a chance, on Sunday, a chance to change the atmosphere.”


Gakpo on target but Dutch disappoint in World Cup draw with Ecuador

Gakpo on target but Dutch disappoint in World Cup draw with Ecuador
Updated 25 November 2022

Gakpo on target but Dutch disappoint in World Cup draw with Ecuador

Gakpo on target but Dutch disappoint in World Cup draw with Ecuador
  • Gakpo put the Netherlands ahead with a superb strike in the sixth minute
  • Ecuador fought back with such ferocity that the Dutch were rattled, and they deserved the equaliser when it came through Enner Valencia

DOHA: Cody Gakpo scored again at the World Cup but the Netherlands missed the chance to secure a place in the last 16 on Friday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by battling Ecuador, a result which eliminated host nation Qatar.
Gakpo, the gangly PSV Eindhoven forward who has been strongly linked with Manchester United, put the Netherlands ahead with a superb strike in the sixth minute at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Yet, with a large and vociferous support behind them, Ecuador fought back with such ferocity that the Dutch were rattled, and they deserved the equalizer when it came through Enner Valencia four minutes after half-time.
It was Ecuador captain Valencia’s third goal of the World Cup already after his brace in his country’s opening win over Qatar.
And one consequence of this result is that the host nation, already beaten twice, are the first team to be eliminated from their own World Cup.
Three-time beaten finalists the Netherlands are not quite through to the next round, with one point separating them, Ecuador and Senegal, who defeated Qatar 3-1 earlier.
“We have everything in our own hands. We have to be ready for Qatar and show a very good performance there and hopefully win the game,” said captain Virgil van Dijk.
“Today the second half wasn’t good but sometimes you play a bad half even if you try to avoid it.
“But we are at the start of the tournament. We will improve.”
Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side meet the hosts in the last round of Group A games knowing a draw will make certain of their place in the knockout phase, with Ecuador and Senegal facing each other next Tuesday.
“Sometimes you deserve to win but don’t get the result for different reasons,” said Ecuador coach Gustavo Alfaro.
“But I told the players I wasn’t interested in the result tonight. It was the last of my worries.
“The Netherlands are a team who are here to win the World Cup.”
Much of the talk before this game had been about Memphis Depay, with the Barcelona forward having impressed as a second-half substitute in the 2-0 win over Senegal in his first game in two months after a thigh injury.
While he once again started on the bench, it was the 23-year-old Gakpo who again starred in front of goal.
Scorer of the late headed opener against Senegal, he got an early breakthrough on this occasion, lashing a left-foot shot between the despairing dive of Hernan Galindez and the post after being set up by Davy Klaassen.
That, remarkably, was to be the Netherlands’ only shot on target as they were pushed back by Ecuador for much of the rest of the game.
Giant Dutch goalkeeper Andries Noppert had to get down to his right to keep out a shot from Valencia, who had been a pre-match fitness doubt.
Then Ecuador thought they had equalized in first-half stoppage time when Pervis Estupinan diverted an Angelo Preciado shot into the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside against Jackson Porozo.
Depay then replaced Steven Bergwijn at the start of the second half but Ecuador soon got their equalizer.
Estupinan was again involved as the Brighton and Hove Albion wing-back’s shot was saved by Noppert but Valencia followed in to convert the loose ball.
They might even have won it, with Gonzalo Plata crashing a shot off the crossbar just before the hour mark.
An encouraging evening for Ecuador was marred when Valencia came off on a stretcher. He sat with ice around his right knee on the sidelines, and the South Americans will hope their all-time top scorer can recover quickly.
They will need him for a nerve-jangling showdown with Senegal with a place in the last 16 on the line — they have only reached that stage once before, when they were beaten 1-0 by England in 2006.