Kieran Trippier set for return to Newcastle action against Manchester City

Kieran Trippier set for return to Newcastle action against Manchester City
England international defender Kieran Trippier, a Man City academy graduate, might be fit for Sunday’s encounter with his football alma mater. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 01 May 2022

Kieran Trippier set for return to Newcastle action against Manchester City

Kieran Trippier set for return to Newcastle action against Manchester City
  • The Magpies travel to Premier League title-challengers City looking to keep their own hopes of a top 10 finish alive

NEWCASTLE: Kieran Trippier finally looks set for his long-awaited Newcastle United return against Manchester City.
The Magpies travel to Premier League title-challengers City looking to keep their own hopes of a top 10 Premier League finish alive — and they are likely to have England international defender Trippier, himself a Man City academy graduate, fit for Sunday’s encounter.
Trippier, a high-profile January addition from Atletico Madrid, has not kicked a ball since he proved the match-winner in the Magpies’ 1-0 win over Aston Villa in February. A broken foot, which required an operation, has kept him out for almost three months.
But having returned to full first-team training last Friday, the 31-year-old is edging closer to wearing the famous black and white in the Premier League run-in.
When asked whether Trippier will be available for the trip to the Etihad, head coach Eddie Howe said: “We’ll see how his training week progresses. Yes, that training session was Friday, so he was never going to be in contention to play (against Liverpool). We’ll see how he progresses during the week.”
On Saturday, United suffered only their fourth loss of 2022, and their first of the calendar year in the Premier League at St. James’ Park, to Man City’s title rivals Liverpool. Naby Keita got the only goal of the game in the first half.
One player who went off during that game was Fabian Schar. When asked about the nature of the problem — and whether it will keep the player out — Howe said: “I don’t know, it was related to the tackle. I don’t know what it is. I haven’t spoken to him or the medical team yet. We hope it’s nothing serious but obviously it was enough for him to come off.”
While United turned to the likes of Jacob Murphy and Chris Wood off the bench, Liverpool — who made a raft of changes with the game sandwiched between a two-legged Champions League semi-final — called on world-renowned talent such as Mo Salah, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho.
Having stated pre-game that he hopes Newcastle versus Liverpool could prove a title-decider in the future, Howe fully accepts that there is a long way to go to get there.
“They rotated their team slightly and had quality from the bench, we knew that. That’s the standard, that’s the quality of their squad,” he said.
“Fair play to them. We ran them all the way. It was close but it wasn’t close enough as I don’t think we had any sustained period of pressure.
“I don’t think we had that moment where you felt we must score. We had a lot of work to do from a defensive perspective to improve and get close to the top teams.”
The challenges faced against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds on home soil will no doubt be amplified on away territory in Manchester this coming weekend.
“You have several challenges,” Howe said on facing the likes of Liverpool and Man City. “First and foremost, it’s trying to get the ball, which isn’t easy, and trying to exert the right amount of pressure to win the ball back. How many men do you push forward to do that?
“I thought we got the balance better in the second half. I thought we improved and were slightly more aggressive without being cavalier. But that’s the biggest challenge. You need the ball to score, and on transitions we probably weren’t good enough.
“We weren’t a genuine counterattack threat in the game, which I probably thought pre-game we would be. Our set play execution as well wasn’t quite at the level it has been because that might be the avenue to get us a goal.”

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE
Updated 01 July 2022

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE

YouTube star Logan Paul signs with WWE
  • The 27-year-old seeks revenge on former WrestleMania 38 partner The Miz

RIYADH: Logan Paul has officially become a member of the WWE locker room after signing a contract with the company this week.

The renowned American YouTuber took to social media to announce the news by sharing photos of his visit to the WWE headquarters. Paul was pictured signing his contract alongside Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, who serves as the executive vice president for Global Talent Strategy & Development, and his wife Stephanie McMahon who is interim chief executive officer for the WWE.

Paul didn’t waste any time and delivered a message to The Miz, Mike Mizanin, following their run-in at WrestleMania 38.

The social media star had previously teamed up with The Miz to take on the legendary masked luchador superstar Rey Mysterio and his son Dominik at the WWE showpiece event. Fans were impressed by his performance, as the 27-year-old mocked the late legend Eddie Guerrero with the Three Amigos and the Frog Splash.

Paul and The Miz emerged victorious on WrestleMania 38’s first night, largely thanks to the newcomer’s efforts.

However, after their The Showcase of the Immortals victory over the Mysterios, The Miz dropped Paul with a Skull-Crushing Finale. After much speculation that they might once again team up, Paul made it clear he’s out for payback at SummerSlam on July 30.

Last year, Paul attempted to kickstart a boxing career as he took on Floyd Mayweather in an exhibition. He managed to go the distance with the former world champion as the contest ended in a tie. Mayweather’s superior boxing was reflected by the CompuBox punch stats, with the tired champion having landed 43 punches of 107 thrown (40.2 percent), compared to Paul’s 28 landed of 217 thrown (12.9 percent).

On Feb. 3, 2018, following his white-collar amateur boxing match with Joe Weller, a British YouTuber who goes by the name of KSI (real name Olajide Olayinka Williams “JJ” Olatunji) challenged Paul to two boxing matches in which Logan and his brother Jake would fight KSI and his younger brother, Deji. While Jake Paul won his match, Logan’s ended in a draw.

In November 2019, Paul made his professional boxing debut in a rematch against KSI. The bout consisted of six three-minute rounds, and resulted in a win for KSI via split decision, with two judges scoring the fight 57–54 and 56–55 for KSI, and one judge scoring it 56–55 in favor of Paul.

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar
Semi-automated offside technology will be introduced at Qatar 2022. (FIFA)
Updated 01 July 2022

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar

Semi-automated offside technology to be used at FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar
  • System provides automated offside alert to video match officials, has been successfully tested at previous FIFA tournaments
  • 3-D animation improves communication to in-stadium fans, TV viewers

RIYADH: FIFA officials have announced that semi-automated offside technology will be used at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar that kicks off on Nov. 21.

Bosses at football’s international governing body said the system would offer a support tool for video match officials and the on-field referee to help them make faster, more accurate, and more reproducible offside decisions on the biggest stage of all.

Following the successful use of video assistant referee technology at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared in The Vision 2020-23 that his federation would strive to harness the full potential of technology in football and further enhance VAR.

He said: “At the FIFA World Cup in 2018, FIFA took the brave step to use VAR technology on the world’s biggest stage, and it has proven to be an undisputable success.

“Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of the VAR systems that have been implemented across the world. This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the very best for the teams, players, and fans who will be heading to Qatar later this year.

“And FIFA is proud of this work, as we look forward to the world seeing the benefits of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup 2022.

“FIFA is committed to harnessing technology to improve the game of football at all levels, and the use of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is the clearest possible evidence,” Infantino added.

By working with adidas and various partners, and especially with the Working Group for Innovation Excellence and technology providers, FIFA has spent the last few years further improving the VAR system, including the use of semi-automated offside technology.

The new technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating their exact position on the pitch. The 29 collected data points include all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls.

Al Rihla, adidas’ official match ball for Qatar 2022, will provide a further vital element for the detection of tight offside incidents as an inertial measurement unit sensor will be placed inside the ball. This sensor, positioned in the center of the ball, sends ball data to the video operation room 500 times per second, allowing a very precise detection of the kick point.

By combining the limb- and ball-tracking data and applying artificial intelligence, the new technology provides an automated offside alert to the video match officials inside the video operation room whenever the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by a team-mate.

Before informing the on-field referee, the video match officials validate the proposed decision by manually checking the automatically selected kick point and the automatically created offside line, which is based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs. This process happens within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.

After the decision has been confirmed by the video match officials and the referee on the pitch, the exact same positional data points that were used to make the decision are then generated into a 3-D animation that perfectly details the position of the players’ limbs at the moment the ball was played. This 3-D animation, which will always show the best possible perspectives for an offside situation, will then be shown on the giant screens in the stadium and will also be made available to FIFA’s broadcast partners to inform all spectators in the clearest possible way.

The workflow of semi-automated offside technology and the connected ball technology have been successfully trialed at numerous test events and live at FIFA tournaments, including the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021.

More tests will be conducted in the coming months to fine-tune the system before a global standard is implemented to ensure that the new technology can be used in the world of football.

All details on the semi-automated offside technology set-up and the connected ball technology will be presented to the teams that have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the Team Workshop in Doha on July 4 and 5 and then shared with the public.

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said: “We expect that semi-automated offside technology can take us a step further. We are aware that sometimes the process to check a possible offside takes too long, especially when the offside incident is very tight.

“The testing has been a major success and we are very confident that, in Qatar, we will have a very valuable support tool to help referees and assistant referees make the best and most correct decision on the field of play.

“I know that someone called it robot offside; it’s not. The referees and the assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play,” he added.

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season
Cosmin Contra has apologized to Al-Ittihad for the club's late SPL title race. (Arriyadiyah)
Updated 01 July 2022

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season

Cosmin Contra apologizes to Al-Ittihad fans for SPL title race collapse, promises strong comeback next season
  • Romanian coach’s team blew 16-point February lead over Al-Hilal to lose title by 2 points on last day of season

RIYADH: Al-Ittihad coach Cosmin Contra has apologised to club supporters for his team’s late collapse in the 2021-22 Saudi Pro League title race which allowed Al-Hilal to claim a record-extending 18th championship.

And the Romanian coach promised that the Jeddah club would return stronger in the coming season.

In February, the 46-year-old manager’s team were 16 points clear of the Riyadh giants, but a poor run of form, including two defeats to Al-Hilal, saw them lose the title by two points on the last day of the campaign.

Writing on his official Twitter account, Contra said: “I would like to apologize that we let you down at the last minute, and although we did our best, we did not live up to the aspirations of our fans.”

He highlighted that great champions bounce back from big disappointments by learning from their mistakes. “Al-Ittihad will return next season stronger to achieve the title that we have been waiting for a long time,” he added.

In his tweets, Contra finished by thanking Al-Ittihad fans for the support they had provided to the team throughout the season.

AFC U-23 Asian Cup won by Saudi Arabia was competition’s most engaging

AFC U-23 Asian Cup won by Saudi Arabia was competition’s most engaging
The AFC’s Twitter account generated the highest improvement in impressions. (@SaudiNT)
Updated 01 July 2022

AFC U-23 Asian Cup won by Saudi Arabia was competition’s most engaging

AFC U-23 Asian Cup won by Saudi Arabia was competition’s most engaging
  • Record-breaking 340m social media impressions for tourney’s 5th edition

The AFC U-23 Asian Cup won by Saudi Arabia in Uzbekistan last month saw a record-breaking 340 million social media impressions — a massive increase of 193.8 percent from the fourth edition in Thailand two years ago.

Asia’s top 16 teams competed for 19 days across 32 matches in the cities of Tashkent and Qarshi, with the Kingdom clinching the coveted fifth crown by defeating hosts Uzbekistan 2-0 in a captivating decider.

The biggest increase was observed through the video content which received 46.9 million views on the AFC’s digital platforms, a rise of 1,066 percent from the 2020 edition, while the newly launched AFC TikTok account also garnered 9.3 million views with close to a million engagements.

The AFC’s Twitter account generated the highest improvement in impressions with a 217 percent increase from 2020 to 33 million, followed by Instagram, which received 115.65 million impressions or an increase of 119 percent, while the AFC’s Facebook impressions rose by 80 percent to nearly 110 million.

At the same time, engagement on the AFC’s social media channels grew by 141.2 percent from 7.3 million in 2020 to 17.68 million in 2022. This was thanks to the multi-lingual approach through the AFC’s platforms in English, Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Thai and Vietnamese.

The AFC’s Facebook account saw the highest uptake with nearly 10 million engagements, 315 percent higher than the last edition, with the confederation’s Twitter account increasing by 84 percent to 1.6 million engagements, while Instagram rose 61 percent to 6 million engagements.

On the pitch, the continent’s attacking prowess was also palpable with a total of 81 goals scored across the 32 matches, averaging approximately two goals per match, as the young Green Falcons became the first side in the tournament’s history to maintain an unblemished defensive record across all six matches in their impressive march to the title.

The tournament also saw spectator attendance records rewritten on several occasions, with 28,670 fans gathering at the Pakhtakor Stadium when hosts Uzbekistan opened their campaign against Turkmenistan, before a notable 32,268 supporters attended the thrilling final between the host nation and Saudi Arabia.

Boost for embattled Iraq football as Basra set to host Gulf Cup 2023

Boost for embattled Iraq football as Basra set to host Gulf Cup 2023
Iraq is one of Asia’s biggest football nations. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 July 2022

Boost for embattled Iraq football as Basra set to host Gulf Cup 2023

Boost for embattled Iraq football as Basra set to host Gulf Cup 2023
  • Many delays to 25th edition of the 8-team tournament now set for next January

The 25th Gulf Cup that was scheduled to take place in December 2021 will be held in the Iraqi city of Basra in January 2023, the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation announced on Thursday. The body voted unanimously to return the competition to the country for the first time since it was staged in Baghdad back in 1979.

That was also the first time Iraq won the title and the team repeated the feat in 1984 and 1988. But the last time the eight-nation biennial tournament took place was in December 2019 in Qatar when Bahrain lifted the trophy. The 2021 version was postponed as facilities including stadiums and hotels in the southern Iraqi city were not ready. It was expected to take place in 2022 but that proved to be impossible due to a crowded international schedule, which included World Cup qualifiers, Asian Cup qualifiers and the Arab Cup, not to mention the World Cup itself.

Basra has been working hard to improve its sporting facilities and general infrastructure and after inspection by AGCFF officials, the go-ahead was given to stage the first major football competition in the country since the US-led invasion in 2003. FIFA has been concerned about the security situation in the country for a while, due to the Iran-Iraq war in the eighties and the first Gulf War in the following decade.

The prospect of eight teams — Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen —coming to the southern port city is thus a big deal for the host nation.

“Congratulations to Iraq and the dear Basra for hosting the 25th Gulf Championship,” said the country’s president Barham Salih, adding “it is a merit worthy of Iraq and its people after more than four decades deprived of that.”

Salih paid tribute to “all the governmental and popular efforts and our sports fans that contributed to achieving this achievement, which embodies the Iraqis’ ethos of generosity and hospitality.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was also delighted and promised that Basra would put on a great show.

“We congratulate our beloved Iraq and Basra after this long-awaited tournament (has been awarded to us). We promise our people and our brothers in the Gulf that this football event will be a model in football circles.”

In the almost two decades since Iraq was invaded, only in 2011 have World Cup qualifiers been held in the country due to FIFA concerns over security. There was disappointment earlier this year as the world governing body, which had originally allowed Baghdad to host March’s qualifier against the UAE, switched the game to Saudi Arabia just days before kick-off after missile attacks in the north of the country.

This latest decision could mark the beginning of a new era for Iraqi football on and off the pitch. For as long as anyone, around the age of 50 remembers, Iraq’s home games have usually taken place in third countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. But once the Gulf Cup, which is not a FIFA-sanctioned competition, is done and dusted, then it is hoped that Iraq will be given the green light to play competitive games in Baghdad and elsewhere.

Iraq is one of Asia’s biggest football nations and won the 2007 Asian Cup despite the chaotic situation back home. The country has only appeared at one World Cup, back in 1986, and it is likely that there would have been other appearances had the team been allowed to play qualifiers on home soil. With the 2026 World Cup expanding to include eight automatic berths from Asia, doubling the current total of four, if the Gulf Cup leads to a change in FIFA’s stance, then Iraq will have a great chance of going to North America.

First though, there is a need to perform well off the field in January.

“We are now facing a great challenge, as we are only six months away from the start of the tournament,” said Adnan Dirjal, the president of the Iraq Football Association. “This requires everyone to do a great deal of work and to double their efforts.”

“We are looking forward to the challenge however and to welcoming the Gulf Cup to our country and putting on a great event.”