Saudi Arabia beat Iran to take bronze at 2022 Asian Handball Championship in Dammam

Saudi Arabia beat Iran to take bronze at 2022 Asian Handball Championship in Dammam
Saud Arabia's players celebrate winning bronze at the 2022 Asian Handball Championship in Dammam. (Saudi Handball Federation)
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Updated 01 February 2022

Saudi Arabia beat Iran to take bronze at 2022 Asian Handball Championship in Dammam

Saudi Arabia beat Iran to take bronze at 2022 Asian Handball Championship in Dammam
  • Qatar secured 5th straight title after victory over Bahrain in final

Saudi Arabia have claimed bronze at the 20th Asian Men’s Handball Championship after beating Iran 26-23 in Dammam on Monday.

The Saudi team ended the first half with a 15-12 lead and managed to maintain the three-point difference until the end of the third-place playoff match, hosted by the Ministry of Sports.

It was the second time that the team from the Kingdom had won bronze at the expense of Iran, having previously beaten them 24-23 in 2008.

Saudi Arabia also finished third in the 2002 and 2012 editions.

Qatar were crowned champions with a 29-24 victory over Bahrain, to emulate South Korea’s feat of winning the title five times in a row.

The Qatari team have now taken gold in every edition from 2014 to 2022, while the Koreans had exerted similar dominance between 1983 and 1993.

South Korea still hold the record for the most titles with nine, with Qatar second on five.

The tournament’s top five teams — Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and South Korea — also secured qualification for the 2022 World Handball Championship that will take place in Sweden and Poland.


Italy advances in Nations League; England, Germany draw 3-3

Italy advances in Nations League; England, Germany draw 3-3
Updated 27 September 2022

Italy advances in Nations League; England, Germany draw 3-3

Italy advances in Nations League; England, Germany draw 3-3

Part one of the healing process is complete for Italy.
Looking to regain respect after failing to qualify for a second straight World Cup, the Azzurri advanced to next year’s finals tournament in the Nations League by winning at Hungary 2-0 thanks to goals by Giacomo Raspadori and Federico Dimarco on Monday.
By topping a group also containing England and Germany, the Italians joined the Netherlands and Croatia in qualifying for the final four, which will be hosted by the Dutch in June.
Portugal or Spain will complete the lineup when they face off on Tuesday.
Unlike Italy, England and Germany will be going to the World Cup in Qatar in less than two months and they’ll head to the Middle East on the back of a wild 3-3 draw at Wembley Stadium, where all the goals were scored in the second half.
Trailing 2-0, England scored three goals in a 12-minute span from the 71st — through Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and Harry Kane’s penalty — only for Kai Havertz to pounce on a fumble by England goalkeeper Nick Pope to equalize in the 87th.
England’s winless run stretched to six games, with Gareth Southgate’s team finishing its Nations League campaign without a victory and relegated.
Germany isn’t in much better shape ahead of the World Cup, with just one win in its last seven games.
Italy won Group A3 with 11 points, one more than Hungary, which went into the game in Budapest needing only a draw to reach the Nations League final four for the first time.

Italy's players celebrate after the UEFA Nations League Group 3 football match between Hungary and Italy in Budapest on September 26, 2022. (AFP)


ITALY RECOVERS
The Italians are finding it easier to qualify for Nations League finals than World Cups.
They also got to the 2021 tournament, losing to Spain in the semifinals on home soil in their first few months as the reigning European champion.
Plenty has changed in the team since beating England in the European Championship final at Wembley last year, not least up front where Raspadori is making his mark.
Three days after scoring the winner against England in Milan, the Napoli striker put Italy ahead after Adam Nagy’s back-pass came up short.
Wilfried Gnonto challenged goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi for the ball, which bounced free and Raspadori was alert to round Gulacsi and convert his finish in the 27th.
Gianluigi Donnarumma produced a string of diving stops — including a triple save in a matter of seconds — before Nicolò Barella played a ball through at the other end to Bryan Cristante, who crossed for Dimarco to score from close range for his first goal for Italy.
Late pressure from Hungary failed to yield a goal.
“We were excellent for 70 minutes, the last 20 I didn’t like too much,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini said. “We’re happy — it’s important to have reached the Nations League final four for the second time.”
MAGUIRE UNDER SCRUTINY
Under pressure for his starting place in England’s team, Harry Maguire didn’t help his cause against Germany.
The Manchester United center back was at fault for Germany’s 52nd-minute opener from the spot by Ilkay Gundogan — Maguire initially gave the ball away to Jamal Musiala, then clumsily fouled the teenager in the area moments later — and was then dispossessed in midfield to allow the Germans to break, culminating in a curling finish from the edge of the area by Havertz.
Maguire has lost his starting spot at United but Southgate has retained his faith in the defender, who typically plays better for his country than his club. It was a tough night all around for England’s center backs, with John Stones forced off with a suspected hamstring injury.
England did well to fight back, with Kane’s penalty taking him to 51 goals for England, two off Wayne Rooney’s national record, but yet another mistake proved costly.
Pope, filling in for the injured Jordan Pickford, spilled Serge Gnabry’s weak shot and Havertz was on hand to tap in from close range.
“A couple of errors have cost us the goals,” Southgate said, “but I’ll focus on the fact they played with tremendous spirit and showed a belief that we haven’t shown in the last few games.”
There was a well-observed period of silence before kickoff as a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died this month. Players from both teams wore black armbands.


Five things to look out for as Arab quartet finalize World Cup preparations

Five things to look out for as Arab quartet finalize World Cup preparations
Updated 26 September 2022

Five things to look out for as Arab quartet finalize World Cup preparations

Five things to look out for as Arab quartet finalize World Cup preparations
  • Herve Renard’s Saudi Arabia must produce more firepower upfront, while Qatar’s loss of form is cause for major concern

The four Arab teams preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup had mixed results in the first round of games in this crucial international break. There were plenty of talking points around the games, and below are just five things to look forward to as the quartet wrap up the last official international get-together before the action starts in Qatar on Nov. 20.

1. Saudi Arabia need to score against the US

There were some positives for Saudi Arabia to take from Friday’s 0-0 draw with Ecuador, not least that they avoided a third straight defeat since the end of qualification for the World Cup.

But the Green Falcons have failed to score in 295 minutes of football, and to be honest, they have not looked like scoring very often. In the three friendlies against Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, chances have been few and far between.

In the most recent, there were a couple of opportunities, and Firas Al-Buraikan and Nawaf Al-Abed should have done better with their efforts, but coach Herve Renard needs to find a way to get Salem Al-Dawsari into the game and into areas where he can use his creative talents.

Salman Al-Faraj, with his ability to retain possession and bring composure to the middle of the park, was missed in that regard, and it is vital that the skipper gets fit and stays fit.

There are not many striking options available for Renard so there needs to be goals from all areas of the pitch. Against strong teams like Argentina, Poland and Mexico at the World Cup, Saudi Arabia are going to have to take their limited number of chances and be clinical on the counter and at set pieces. Another failure to score on Tuesday will set the alarm bells ringing.

2. Tunisia get their test against Brazil

The North Africans extended their unbeaten run to seven games on Thursday with a 1-0 win over Comoros. It was not the most fluid of performances from the Carthage Eagles but the real test comes on Tuesday with a game against Brazil in Paris. There is going to be a lot of support for Tunisia at the Parc des Princes and they want to see if this team are the real deal. The wins over Chile and especially Japan in Japan in June were hugely impressive, but now come the five-time world champions.

Tunisia have been placed in a tough group with title-holders France, Denmark and Australia, and will get a great idea of what level they are at the moment against a Brazil team that are in great form. The Selecao have scored 21 goals in the last six games with just one goal conceded, and the standard of opposition has been decent, too.

It is very impressive and means that head coach Jalel Kadri is going to see how well his team can defend against world-class players.

3. Qatar need to rediscover their mojo

The World Cup host started last week with a comprehensive 3-0 loss to Croatia’s U-23 team. Bad results can happen but the 2-0 loss to Canada on Friday was more worrying. The opening period was truly poor, with the two goals from the North Americans both coming in the first 15 minutes.

Qatar’s performance improved after that but the damage had been done. There was a distinct lack of energy and concentration among the players.

Coach Felix Sanchez has really taken the team places over the past few years and it would be disappointing if the 2019 Asian champions were to lose their edge just as the tournament is within touching distance. The wake-up call from the Canadians has to be heard and the game against Chile on Tuesday has become even more important. Whether there is a win or not, there has to be a return to the mentality monsters that won the 2019 continental championships.

4. Moroccan smiles as Ziyech returns

Morocco gave new coach Walid Regragui a 2-0 win over Chile in his first game in charge after being appointed in August. The man who led Wydad to the African Champions League title earlier in the summer was a popular choice to replace Vahid Halilhodzic.

Most of the headlines focused on the return of Hakim Ziyech for the first time since June 2021, with the breakdown of the Chelsea star’s relationship with Halilhodzic being seen as a major reason why the French Bosnian coach was dismissed.

Now Ziyech is back ahead of the World Cup and it is a major boost with tough group games against Belgium, Canada and Croatia coming up.

His performance was solid rather than spectacular and the same can be said of the game in general but it sets up the game against Paraguay nicely. Another confidence-boosting performance against South American opposition would be welcome and reaffirm the widespread belief that the coaching change, while late, was necessary.

5. US toughest test so far for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have faced Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador since qualifying and failed to win any of the three matches.

Things will not get easier against a US team ranked 14 in the world, and which is full of experienced internationals playing in some of the world’s best leagues.

Christian Pulisic is with Chelsea, fullback Sergino Dest is with AC Milan and Weston McKennie plays for Juventus. There are others in the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1 as well as MLS.

After losing 2-0 to Japan on Friday, coach Gregg Berhalter will be keen to return to winning ways.

Just as in the 0-0 draw with Ecuador, there is going to be plenty of defending for Saudi Arabia to do but there is no reason to sit back too much. There is also no reason why the Asian team cannot go toe to toe with the team that reached the knockout stage at three of their last four World Cups before missing out last time around. If the midfield can be more involved in the game and can keep and use possession better, those elusive goals may not be far away.


Saudi Games sees huge interest, registration extended by a week

Saudi Games sees huge interest, registration extended by a week
Updated 26 September 2022

Saudi Games sees huge interest, registration extended by a week

Saudi Games sees huge interest, registration extended by a week
  • Sept. 30 deadline after surge of athletes seeking to participate

The organizing committee of the Saudi Games 2022 on Sunday announced a week’s extension to the registration deadline for the event in Riyadh from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7.

The extra period was added to give more athletes the opportunity to join after there was huge demand from across the Kingdom to participate in one of the biggest events of its kind in Saudi sporting history.

The extension was from Sept. 25 to Sept. 30 and interested athletes can apply through the competition’s website for spots in the following sports: Darts, athletics, beach volleyball, billiards, bowling, rock climbing, cycling, esports, indoor rowing, Muay Thai, padel tennis, skateboarding, squash, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.


Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2

Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2
Updated 26 September 2022

Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2

Tight fight for Extreme E title as X44 Vida Carbon Racing claim first win of season 2
  • Penalties for winners NEOM McLaren dropped the team down the standings

The X44 Vida Carbon Racing team claimed their first victory of the Extreme E season in a dramatic first Copper X Prix Final in Chile at the weekend.

Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez finished second but were handed a vital win after penalties for winners NEOM McLaren Extreme E dropped them down the standings.

A dramatic twist saw No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing enter the final as first reserve, after technical issues robbed championship leaders Rosberg X Racing a shot at securing the title this weekend.

The American team had finished the race in third, but in pushing hard to make the most of the opportunity, they received a penalty for missing a waypoint, which subsequently put No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing off the podium and into fourth.

Following those penalties for NEOM McLaren Extreme E and No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing, ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team took second place and ABT CUPRA XE secured their first podium of the second season with third.

The victorious Loeb said: “We are very happy with the result today, of course. We were surprised to see that Rosberg X Racing weren’t competing in the final, but we didn’t have a lot of time to think about it as we were racing straight away.

“It was a very strong fight against some great teams but Cristina was incredible, securing the fastest lap of all the drivers in the final.”

Loeb’s teammate Gutiérrez said: “Today was amazing, we are so happy to have won the Copper X Prix and to still be in the fight for the championship. Rosberg X Racing are a really strong team so for them to not be able to drive in the final was not good for them, but hopefully it is more interesting to have more than one team fighting for the championship in Uruguay.

“It was a very tough race so I was surprised to get the fastest lap, but it shows what an incredible opportunity Extreme E is providing for female drivers to prove ourselves and show we can compete against some of the best drivers in the world. Now we go to Uruguay, which is very good for me as I love to race in South America. Hopefully we can even get another race win and maybe the championship too.”

Meanwhile Carlos Sainz Snr. of ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team, said: “It was a very exciting weekend and now we need to look to Uruguay and make sure we do a good final race.

“Even though we made it to the final it was not easy from where we were. We have been consistent and have been improving, and in life you have to keep improving, although it’s difficult at my age.”

Race Results:

1. X44 Vida Carbon Racing 8:59:728

2. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team +6.093

3. ABT CUPRA XE +8.612

4. No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing +10.159 (penalized)

5. NEOM McLaren Extreme E +18.935 (penalized)

Championship Points Standings:

1. Rosberg X Racing: 83

2. X44 Vida Carbon Racing: 66

3. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team: 60

4. No. 99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing: 55

5. NEOM McLaren Extreme E: 34

6. Genesys Andretti United Extreme E: 33

7. XITE ENERGY RACING: 29

8. JBXE: 25

9. ABT CUPRA XE: 21

10. Veloce Racing: 8


Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title

Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title
Updated 26 September 2022

Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title

Double podium for Team Abu Dhabi as Shaun Torrente edges to 3rd world title
  • American finished third in Grand Prix of Italy, with Emirati teammate Thani Al-Qemzi in second behind Dutch rookie Ferdinand Zandbergen of Sharjah Team

SAN NAZZARO: Team Abu Dhabi’s Shaun Torrente took another step toward a third UIM F1H2O World Championship crown as Sharjah Team’s Ferdinand Zandbergen recorded a memorable victory in the Grand Prix of Italy at the weekend.

Torrente’s third place just adrift of teammate Thani Al-Qemzi in San Nazzaro means he now holds a 17-point championship lead over the Emirati, with two deciding rounds to follow in Sharjah in December

For the second time in 24 hours, the technically demanding Po River circuit produced a string of casualties, with only eight of the 12 starters completing the 40-lap race.

After his convincing victory in Saturday’s Grand Prix of Regione Emilia Romagna, Torrente had to call on all his experience to grab a podium place after failing by one position to reach the six-boat qualifying shoot-out earlier in the day.

Zandbergen, in his F1H2O rookie season, took his first pole position in impressive style, and went on to produce another composed performance to score his maiden Grand Prix win.

Al-Qemzi’s second place means the veteran Emirati driver still retains hope of a first individual drivers’ title, while his partnership with Torrente already looks like delivering a fifth consecutive team championship to Abu Dhabi.

Sweden’s defending champion Jonas Andersson, meanwhile, kept his hopes alive with fourth place as a pulsating Grand Prix double-header reached its conclusion.

He now trails Torrente by 21 points in third place, however, with the impressive Zandbergen climbing to fourth to underline his challenge.

Fresh from his superb win on Saturday, Torrente had earlier maintained his momentum by winning today’s first qualifying round, with Al-Qemzi clocking the sixth fastest lap.

After his crash 24 hours earlier following a mechanical exit while leading the season opener in France, Sharjah Team’s Sami Selio looked to have put all that behind him as he initially set the best time in Q2.

But the Finnish driver made a spectacular exit as his boat suddenly lifted off the water and flipped 360 degrees. He was unhurt, but ruled out of the Grand Prix, although his consolation was in using the radio to guide teammate Zandbergen to success.

Portugal’s Duarte Benavente and Norway’s Marit Stromoy were also non-starters after yesterday’s mishaps, while Frenchman Peter Morin, Finns Alec Weckstrom and Kalle Viippo and Poland’s Bartek Marszalek failed to reach the finish.

The World Championship points positions (provisional):

 

1. Shaun Torrente (US) 52

 

2. Thani Al-Qemzi (UAE) 35

 

3. Jonas Andersson (Sweden) 31

 

4. Ferdinand Zandbergen (Netherlands) 27

 

5. Peter Morin (France) 21

 

6. Alec Weckstrom (Finland) 21