Algeria and Tunisia clash in intriguing all-African 2021 FIFA Arab Cup final in Doha

Algeria and Tunisia clash in intriguing all-African 2021 FIFA Arab Cup final in Doha
Algeria's players celebrate their victory in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup semi-final football match between Qatar and Algeria at the Al-Thumama stadium in the Qatari capital Doha on 15 December 2021. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 December 2021

Algeria and Tunisia clash in intriguing all-African 2021 FIFA Arab Cup final in Doha

Algeria and Tunisia clash in intriguing all-African 2021 FIFA Arab Cup final in Doha
  • Both teams reached the final in dramatic circumstances with winners deep into stoppage time

A fascinating final between neighbors Tunisia and Algeria awaits us today in a special final of the Arab Cup.

It has been a wonderful tournament, with 10th Arab Cup preserving the traditions and characteristics that have long defined the competition.

Algeria ensured the final will be a historic one when they qualified for the first time by beating Qatar 2-1. Thus they set a date with Tunisia, who defeated Egypt 1-0, in the first all-African final since the establishment of the tournament.

Last-minute goals were a prominent feature in the group stages, and this continued in the dramatic semi-finals, both confrontations being decided very late with the help of friendly fire and a penalty kick.

In the first half of the match against Egypt, Tunisian coach Munther Al-Kabeer adopted a 5-4-1 formation, which enabled his team to put pressure on their opponents. Despite the setback of an injury to Yassin Meriah, it proved successful in stopping their opponents from scoring, setting the stage for that late dramatic win thanks to Egyptian captain Amr El-Solia’s 95th minute own goal.

It was Egypt’s first defeat in 19 games since their elimination from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

How much the void left by Meriah will affect the Tunisians in the final remains to be seen. Muhammad Ali bin Ramadan will again replace him, as he did against Egypt.

Throughout the tournament Tunisia have presented a significant aerial threat from set pieces. Against Egypt, the Carthage Eagles played eight balls from free kicks into the penalty area — including the one that set up the winner. According to their coach, they should focus on repeating this in the final against Algeria.

The second semi-final between Algeria and Qatar was in danger of being overshadowed by the refereeing and VAR, which prompted the Saharawis to celebrate their win in front of the officials, who they deemed had almost cost them a win with the 19 minutes of stoppage time added at the end of the 90 minutes.

It was the second match in row that had ended in high drama for the Algerians. They had put on an excellent performance in the quarter-final against neighbors Morocco, the match providing everything we love about football and ending with a tense penalty shootout.

The semi-final against Qatar proved even more dramatic, with the hosts equalizing in the sixth minute of stoppage time and Algeria’s winner, incredibly, coming in the 17th minute.

The final is an intriguing one between two nations with a long history in continental competitions and World Cup qualifiers. Their last match was a friendly in June which Algeria won 2-1. Their previous match was another friendly in 2019, which Algeria also won. Tunisia’s last victory in this fixture came at the 2017 African Nations.

Algeria have a formidable squad full of players of high quality and physical prowess. As pointed out by coach Majid Bougherra, his players have endured difficult matches and played more minutes than any other team. He stressed the difficulty of playing six matches in 17 days with a team made up mostly of home players and missing some Europe-based players such as Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

I was particularly drawn to the performances of veteran Algerian goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, especially in the semi-final win, while for Tunisia Mohamed Drager, who plays for Nottingham Forest, has stood out in the three matches he has taken part in.

At the start, the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup looked like a dress rehearsal for Qatar 2022, with many teams treating it as warm-up for continental tournaments and World Cup qualifiers in the coming months.

But with every match, culminating in those two semi-finals, it has proved itself a competition worthy of its name. On Saturday evening, we await another titanic battle between Algeria and Tunisia.


Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans
Updated 58 min 17 sec ago

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans

Qatar: COVID-19 vaccinations not compulsory for World Cup fans
  • All visitors aged over six would have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament

DOHA: Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, authorities in the Gulf state said on Thursday.

All visitors aged over six will have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament that starts November 20, the authorities said in new health guidelines.

The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the eruption of the Covid pandemic in December 2019.

The Qatar organizers and world football’s governing body FIFA have said they want the event to be a sign that the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

But they have warned that health guidelines will change if the threat blows up again.

Fans will have to wear masks in public transport in Qatar and anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 “will be required to isolate in accordance with Ministry of Public Health guidelines,” the health ministry said.

The ministry added that it may force players, referees and officials to stay in a secure “bio-bubble” if coronavirus cases take off “to allow for the safe operation and continuation of the event.”


Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2

Saudi Arabia take on Bahrain in opening qualifier of ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2
  • Top two teams of qualification campaign in Oman will advance to final 2023 Asia Qualifier with place in 2024 World Cup at stake

Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning take on Bahrain in their opening fixture of the ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2 — Asia qualifiers taking place in Oman.

The youngsters from the Kingdom will then face the hosts on Saturday, Oct. 1, before concluding their Group A matches with a fixture against Bhutan on Monday, Oct 3.

The eight-team qualification campaign also includes Hong Kong, Qatar, Singapore and Thailand, who make up Group B, and will feature 16 matches over nine days.

The top two teams will then advance to the 2023 Asia Qualifier alongside already-qualified Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and the UAE, with a place at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 at stake.

The Saudi squad landed in Muscat on Wednesday after concluding a 45-day intensive training camp in Riyadh in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.


John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark
Updated 29 September 2022

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark

John Cena enters Guinness Book of World Records for Make-A-Wish Foundation landmark
  • WWE superstar and actor honored after granting his 650th wish earlier this year

RIYADH: WWE superstar John Cena has officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records.

The multiple wrestling champion has set a new record for the most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, by reaching 650 for their beneficiaries.

Cena’s total was called a “herculean” effort by the Guinness World Records website as no celebrity had managed more than 200.

Make-A-Wish revealed that Cena, who over the last 16 years has become a Hollywood superstar as well, is their most requested celebrity since the foundation’s inception in 1980.

Cena first worked with Make-A-Wish in 2002, and reached his landmark record on July 19, 2022.

“I will drop what I’m doing and be involved because I think that’s the coolest thing,” the 45-year-old WWE superstar said in an interview with Reuters after being honored for completing 500 wishes in 2015.

“If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part,” Cena added.

This isn’t the first time John Cena has had a major landmark with Make-A-Wish. He also granted the foundation’s 1,000th wish back in 2012.

Inside the ring, Cena is a 13-time WWE Champion, three-time World Heavyweight Champion, two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, two-time World Tag Team champion, five-time US Champion, two-time Royal Rumble match winner, and a 10-time Slammy Award Winner.

He is also tied with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns in professional wrestling history.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps grant wishes for children aged two to 18 who have critical illnesses. The non-profit organization provides children the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrities, go to an event of their choice or grant a gift to someone else.

In 1980 a seven-year-old child Chris Greicius, who had been diagnosed with leukemia a year earlier, was granted a wish to be a policeman for a day by an officer he had befriended in Arizona.

The story inspired the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which granted its first official wish to Frank “Bopsy” Salazar in 1981.


Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha

Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha

Saudi women’s team lose 4-2 to Bhutan in Abha
  • The defeat came in the side’s second-ever international match on home soil

The Saudi women’s national football team on Wednesday night lost 4-2 to Bhutan in their second-ever international on home soil.

The defeat at Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium in Abha came four days after Monika Staab’s team had drawn 3-3 against Bhutan at the same venue.

The visitors broke the deadlock on 22 minutes through Shereng Yangdin before the same player doubled the lead only seven minutes later to leave the Saudis trailing 2-0 at the break.

Saudi Arabia reduced the deficit from a penalty by Maryam Al-Tamimi eight minutes into the second half, but Bhutan restored their two-goal lead as Yangdin completed her hat trick with another spot kick six minutes later.

Staab made several substitutions to raise her team’s tempo, but Bhutan asserted their dominance with a fourth goal on 68 minutes. Saudi star Al-Bandari Mubarak did manage to pull one goal back in the 72nd minute but there would be no addition to the scoreline as Bhutan ran out 4-2 winners.

The double-header of matches against Bhutan over the last five days marked the first matches the Saudi women’s team have played in the Kingdom, having previously played only two internationals, against the Seychelles and Maldives in February.


Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam

Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam
Updated 29 September 2022

Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam

Saudi Sports for All launches multipurpose venue in Dammam
  • 150,000 visitors expected in next 12 months, with over 250,000 in the following period
  • Jeddah’s ‘Dome’ expected toward the end of 2022

DAMMAM: The Saudi Sports for All Federation is set to open a multipurpose sports facility in Dammam this month, among several “Domes” to be launched across the country over the coming years.

Supported by the Ministry of Sports and the Quality of Life Program, the state-of-the-art facility has been set up to empower people in communities across the Kingdom by providing greater access to world-class sports and fitness resources.

Marking the launch of the new dome, the Saudi Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, said: “We are very pleased, and praise be to Allah, on the implementation of such sports projects in the Kingdom. The facilities embody the unlimited support that the leadership of this country provides to the sports sector. The opening of the domes reflects the level of achievement, development, and prosperity required to achieve the Vision 2030 objectives.”

“The Ministry of Sports is working hard to contribute to implementing the Quality of Life Program initiatives, which reflects the wise leadership’s vision in creating the right environment to improve the lifestyles of people across the Kingdom,” he added. “The facilities will enhance participation in cultural, recreational, and sporting activities that help people lead healthier lives, create jobs, promote investment opportunities, and diversify economic activity.”

The opening ceremony, in advance of the doors opening later September, was attended by the President of the Saudi Sports for All Federation Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, Deputy Minister of Sports Badr bin Abdulrahman Al-Kadi, Managing Director of the Saudi Sports for All Federation Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini and several other dignitaries.

The inaugural SFA Dome will support the growth and development of sports and physical activity in the Eastern Province. Housing up to nine courts and facilities, it will cater for basketball, volleyball, tennis, five-a-side football, handball, and table tennis.

Individuals and groups can book facilities at the SFA Dome through the SFA App.

The multipurpose destination is also fully equipped to host corporate events, community programs, and educational engagements that promote sports development — such as inter-school, inter-university, and federation events.

Prince Khaled said: “We are proud to see so much enthusiasm in Dammam around the launch of the SFA Dome, the first purpose-built facility meant to bring us all closer to our goals of health and wellness. This venue is for you, your space to thrive, and we’ve launched it as part of our mission to create curated opportunities and well-designed spaces that put health and well-being first on the agenda.”

“The launch of the SFA dome marks another significant step towards enhancing the Kingdom’s wellness infrastructure for all society, its world-class features contributing to the development of the country’s ever-growing lifestyle and leisure landscape,” Prince Khaled said.

Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Bakr, CEO of the Quality of Life Program, said: “We are pleased to support the opening of the SFA Dome in Dammam: A world-class offering that will enhance our work to empower more people of all ages to practice sports. Through the launch of such modern and community focused projects, we aim to inspire an active, sports-loving generation of Saudi citizens and residents — a community of happy, healthy, and productive people that contribute to the ongoing development of Saudi society.”

The SFA expects to welcome 150,000 participants to the SFA Domes over the next 12 months, with the figure rising to more than 250,000 the following year.

The next one is opening in Jeddah before the end of 2022.

The Domes are part of the SFA’s Active Places initiatives, which aim to create an enabling environment for communities to improve their wellbeing.