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.


Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend

Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend
Updated 11 sec ago

Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend

Omar Al-Somah departs Al-Ahli as Saudi Pro League legend
  • The highest-scoring foreign striker in the league’s history has joined Al-Arabi of Qatar on loan after the Jeddah club’s relegation

Meeting Omar Al-Somah at the 2019 Asian Cup, I asked him what ambitions he had remaining in his career with his 30th birthday fast approaching.

“I just want to score as many goals as possible and help my club and country win as many games as possible,” he replied. He may feel some regret about not appearing at the World Cup with Syria, but when it comes to his club career his achievements will one day be seen as legendary.

There are always headlines and attention given to the big-name foreign strikers who come to the Saudi Professional League, and understandably so. The likes of Odion Ighalo and Bafetimbi Gomis arrived in the country with resumes full of international appearances and spells with big clubs in big leagues. Yet, there are forwards from other Arab nations that come and score more and do so for longer. Abderrazak Hamdallah is one. The Moroccan marksman has played just 82 league games in Saudi Arabia for Al-Nassr and now Al-Ittihad and has found the target an incredible 87 times.

And then there is Al-Somah, the most consistent of all. No foreign striker has scored as many in the history of the SPL and, after joining Al-Ahli in 2014, he has finally departed and joined Al-Arabi on loan for one season, a deal that will cost the Qatari club what will surely be a bargain amount of $3.2 million.

It was only following Al-Ahli’s shock relegation last season that he left.

The second tier is no place for a player of such talents and there were plenty of offers from across the region but Al-Ahli preferred a loan move.

That is because his statistics are something special. Al-Somah played 240 games in all competitions for the Jeddah giants and scored an amazing 192 goals and contributed 30 assists. His 144 league goals are a record for a foreign player. The only other non-Saudi star in the top 10 all-time goalscorers is Hamdallah. 

From 2014 to 2017, the striker from the east of Syria won the Golden Boot in three consecutive seasons. His goals played a big part in Al-Ahli winning their fourth title in 2016 as well as bringing other trophies such as the Saudi Super Cup, the King’s Cup and the Saudi Crown Prince Cup to the Red Sea Port.

It is with a heavy heart that he leaves his home of almost a decade.

“I played eight years with Al-Ahli,” he said. “During that time I helped win the league championship and was the league’s top scorer three times, but the most important thing is the collective achievement. I leave Al-Ahly after such a long time and it comes as a shock but I will try my best to adapt to my new team.”

“I know Al-Arabi Club and I am honored to play in the Qatari league and I hope to leave an imprint with the team,” Al-Somah said. 

He should do just that. Before arriving in Saudi Arabia, he scored plenty of goals for his hometown club of Al-Fotuwa before moving to Kuwaiti giants Al-Qadsia in 2011, where he continued to score almost a goal a game over three seasons.

It is testament to the quality of Al-Somah’s marksmanship that a total of 22 goals over the past two seasons seems relatively small.

By that time, Al-Ahli were fading as a force and the warnings that came with the mid-table finish in the 2020-21 season were not heeded, or at least, not dealt with adequately. With Al-Ahli struggling, there was not as much possession and control in games and fewer chances were created. The striker has slowed a little as he passed his 33rd birthday and the power is not quite as explosive. 

He will still score for a while yet but whatever happens, the Syrian leaves Saudi Arabia as a legend. Had Al-Ahli maintained their standards, he could have become the record goalscorer in the Asian Champions League though as it stands, his 25 means that he is number seven on the all-time list. 

Al-Somah also leaves a reminder that it is not all about buying players from South American, English Premier League or Ligue 1 clubs.

He arrived from Kuwait back in 2014 when few would have predicted that he would last so many seasons and score so many goals for Al-Ahli. As deals go, it wasn’t seen as the biggest or the most exciting but it has been one of the most successful.

In fact, it has been legendary and whether he returns to terrorize Saudi Arabian defenses again or not, Omar Al-Somah will never be forgotten.


Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons
Updated 13 August 2022

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons

Gamers8 unveils dedicated space for Saudi’s Team Falcons
  • Falcon Arena and Falcon District will feature activities for gaming enthusiasts

RIYADH: Gamers8 has announced that Team Falcons, Saudi Arabia’s biggest esports outfit, will have its own dedicated space at the Riyadh event until the end of the season.

Fresh from a second-place finish in “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege,” Team Falcons are now set for more acknowledgment by having two dedicated areas at the event, which runs daily at Boulevard Riyadh City until Sept. 8.

The first area is the Falcon Arena, which features gaming tournaments, meet-and-greet activities with influencers and content creators, as well as a live cooking show. The second area, the Falcon District, features merchandise, a gaming PC center, a museum that showcases the team’s accomplishments, an academy titled “Learn to be a PRO,” as well as a streaming area.

Mosaad Al-Dossary, FIFA eWorld Cup winner and CEO of Team Falcons, said: “Team Falcons are delighted to play such a distinguished role in the unprecedented success of Gamers8. It has been an incredible season at Boulevard Riyadh City so far, packed with outstanding esports play — and not least from Team Falcons.

“The addition of the Falcon Arena and Falcon District to the plethora of entertainment activities at Gamers8 is certain to encourage those who have yet to attend the event, as well as usher back those who want more. The Saudi Esports Federation is responsible for nurturing elite gaming athletes and developing the gaming community and industry in Saudi Arabia, and Team Falcons is both honored and thrilled to be part of this latest initiative in doing so. We look forward to seeing everyone.”

Both the Falcon Arena and Falcon District are open daily from 6 p.m. until midnight.


Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
Updated 13 August 2022

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman

Eddie Howe will not rush Newcastle’s star summer signing Botman
  • Dutch center-half likely to start on the bench again with Dan Burn facing former club Brighton at the Amex Stadium

NEWCASTLE: Star summer signing Sven Botman’s Newcastle United development will not be rushed, insists head coach Eddie Howe.

The Netherlands youth international has so far been the Magpies’ stand-out signing of the summer, having arrived on a $36-million deal from Lille on July 1.

Howe, though, opted not to hand the 22-year-old his full debut on the opening day against Nottingham Forest, instead retaining his central defensive partnership from last season, Dan Burn and Fabian Schar.

Ajax academy graduate Botman did get his first taste of Premier League action off the bench, however, as a 90th-minute sub.

“The more training time we can get into Sven, the better,” Howe said.

“But every situation is very unique. You can never blueprint because that changes within seconds sometimes.

“The more training, the more he gets to understand how we want him to play and his teammates around him will serve him very well.

“I’ve been very pleased with him in pre-season. Him not playing (against Forest) wasn’t a reflection on his performances, he’s been excellent.

“As I said after the game, it was about keeping continuity in our backline that performed very well during the back end of last season.

“Sven’s got a huge part to play.”

The Magpies head to Brighton and Hove Albion today, looking to make it two top-flight wins out of two.

They face a side, though, who recorded their first win at Old Trafford against Manchester United, and who have one of the most respected managers in the English game, Graham Potter.

“Brighton are a very unique team. When you play them, you have a huge challenge on your hands,” Howe said.

“Tactically, I think they’re excellent — Graham (Potter) has done an amazing job there and it’s well documented how innovative and forward-thinking he is.

“Watching the game against Manchester United was a really interesting one from a tactical viewpoint so we’re going to be challenged.

“Every game is different in the Premier League but this one is a big challenge and we’re going to need to respond to it. It’s very different to Nottingham Forest — we’re away but we have prepared for Brighton and hope we can impose our style on them.”

One of Newcastle’s stand-out players from last term started 2021/22 as a Seagulls’ player.

Center-half Burn was a revelation for Howe after making the January switch north — and the head coach is expecting more of the same at the Amex Stadium this afternoon.

He said: “Dan’s an incredible professional. He’s been outstanding for us since he signed for the football club.

“I know it will be a big day for him and probably an emotional day in some ways, going back to a club that he’s performed very well at and consistently performing at a high level.

“I’m sure he’ll get a good reception and welcome for everything he gave Brighton.

“He has been a real presence in the training ground and a very calming influence. He’s got good experiences in the game and has never had it easy.

“He’s had to graft to get into the position he’s in now and he’s not prepared to let that go easily. He’s very popular in the dressing room and the lads look up to him.”


Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
Updated 13 August 2022

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut

Spaun leads playoff opener; Scheffler, McIlroy miss cut
  • Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead
  • Despite missing the cut, Scheffler and McIlroy, at least, get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it

MEMPHIS, Tennessee: J.J. Spaun hopes he’s only getting started on the road to the FedEx Cup finale. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth will have to wait another week.

As for Jason Day, his season is over.

Spaun made a late birdie for a 3-under 67 to take a one-shot lead Friday in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the opening event in the PGA Tour postseason that no longer has three of its biggest stars for the weekend at the TPC Southwind.

Scheffler, the Masters champion and No. 1 player for the last five months, never quite recovered from what he could only describe as an “out-of-body experience” with his putting in the first round. He had birdie chances on two of the last three holes he couldn’t convert and his 68 was one shot short of making the weekend.

“Obviously, it’s really frustrating coming into the playoffs,” Scheffler said. “I was practicing really hard at home, actually playing really good, and I showed up and had the worst putting day ever. Golf smacks you in the face sometimes.”

McIlroy went from rough to gallery to fringe to bogey on his last hole for a 69 for only his second missed cut of the year. Spieth’s hopes of playing the weekend ended with a tee shot into the water on the par-3 14th that led to a 74.

At least they get to play next week in the BMW Championship, being high enough in the standings not to lose too much sleep over it.

Day opened with a 65 and was hopeful of a big finish to advance into the top 70 who made it to the next playoff event. Instead, the former world No. 1 dropped five shots over the last eight holes, shot 74 and missed the cut by one shot.

Day was among 31 players who started outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup and missed the cut, meaning their season is over.

Rickie Fowler, who came in at No. 125, ended the back nine (double bogey) and front nine (bogey) poorly and shot 71. He was tied for 33rd, around for two more days but needing to contend to advance.

Spaun was at 11-under 129 and only looking ahead.

He was one shot ahead of Sepp Straka, who birdied his last three holes for a 66, and Troy Merritt, who had a 65. Merritt started at No. 64 in the standings, so this was just what he needed to make sure he would be moving on.

With a clear sky, hot sun and a little more wind, Spaun was as proud of his 67 on Friday as his 64 the day before. Mostly, he feels his game his coming around after going into a lull following his first PGA Tour title at the Valero Texas Open in early April.

“It’s so hard to be consistently good at the highest level. Some guys that do it like that, like Tiger and McIlroy and all those guys. It’s just insane how good they are for so long,” Spaun said. “I did it for a few months and then kind of fell off, but here I am kind of making my way back.”

Straka knows the feeling. He had not made it to the weekend since the Memorial in early June. And then he opened with rounds of 64-66.

“Hadn’t played great coming into this week. Missed a bunch of cuts coming in,” Straka said (in his case, “a bunch” would be six in a row). “But that’s golf. You’re going to have the ebbs and flows and just kind go with it.”

And off he went, especially at the end, when he finished with three straight birdies to get to 10 under.

Tony Finau, coming off two straight victories, had his 11th consecutive round at 68 or lower dating to the final round of the British Open. His 68 on Friday left him three behind.

Spaun didn’t feel as though he had much of a lead — one shot, not to mention 15 players within four shots of the lead and 36 holes still to play.

“It’s anyone’s weekend, and it’s going to mine,” he said playfully.

The first part for so many players was getting to the weekend, and two players who seized on the opportunity were Ryan Palmer and Lucas Glover.

Palmer is at No. 110 in the FedEx Cup, shot 67 and joined Finau, British Open champion Cam Smith (65) and others at 8-under 132.

Glover is No. 121. Even with a bogey on his final hole, his 68 put him four shots out of the lead.


Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
Updated 13 August 2022

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke

Record-breaker Popovici into Euro freestyle final, Martinenghi wins 100m breaststroke
  • After Friday’s display Popovici will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest

ROME: David Popovici continued his dream summer of swimming on Friday by easing into the 100 meters freestyle final at the European Swimming Championships with a new European record of 46.98 seconds, while world champion Nicolo Martinenghi won the 100m breaststroke.

Teen sensation Popovici looked in fine form earlier on Friday when he easily won his heat and delighted fans by finishing over a second ahead of Italian Lorenzo Zazzeri.

Only two other swimmers managed to dip under 48sec, Kristof Milak and Alessandro Miressi in the other semis, but both were some way off 17-year-old Romanian Popovici.

“It’s a fine route to the final and a step toward the right direction. It feels normal for me to go step-by-step and keep improving my time,” said Popovici.

Popovici, who in June became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at the World Championships in nearly 50 years, will now compete in Saturday’s final.

After Friday’s display he will be hot favorite to continue what has been a golden summer in which he also won three European junior titles in his home town of Bucharest.

Martinenghi was a double gold winner at the Budapest worlds and got the home crowd roaring in Rome with a time of 58.26sec in his final, beating countryman Federico Poggio by 0.72sec.

Andrius Sidlauskas took the bronze for Lithuania.

“This victory means a lot to me. This season has been a very long one and I’m not in my best shape, but it was important to continue winning,” Martinenghi said.

The 23-year-old’s win was one of four golds for Italy in Friday’s evening session at the Foro Italico.

Margherita Panziera won the 200m backstroke, Thomas Ceccon claimed the honors in the 50m butterfly and Simona Quadarella won European gold in the 800m freestyle for the third straight time.

However, the Italians finished second in the 4x100m medley relay, leading for most of the way only to finish nearly two seconds behind the Netherlands and settling for silver.

Ukraine’s Marta Fiedina followed up on her artistic swimming team technical gold by winning the solo technical discipline, pipping local hope Linda Cerutti in the final moments.

Also double gold winner at the recent worlds, Fiedina was the last to take to the pool and won over the judges to earn a score of 92.6394, 1.7555 points ahead of Cerutti who had been leading since finishing her routine as fifth of 21 participants.

“I really gave everything I could at this moment. This is my best performance in Technical Solo this year, for sure,” said the champion.

Giorgio Minisini won the European championships’ inaugural men’s edition of the solo technical with a score of 85.7033, the Italian finishing over six points ahead of Spain’s Fernando Diaz Del Rio Soto.