Newcastle boss Eddie Howe forced to clarify divisive comments by Saint-Maximin

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe forced to clarify divisive comments by Saint-Maximin
Newcastle United forward Allan Saint-Maximin. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 May 2022

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe forced to clarify divisive comments by Saint-Maximin

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe forced to clarify divisive comments by Saint-Maximin
  • The French forward sparked controversy among fans, and some within the club, when he told So Foot magazine that he would have more assists if he had better players around him
  • Howe said: ‘Allan’s quotes didn’t come across in the way that he meant them to … We will be speaking with the squad and making sure there are no fall-outs’

NEWCASTLE: Coach Eddie Howe has defended Newcastle United forward Allan Saint-Maximin after seemingly divisive comments by the player in the French press this week about his teammates sparked controversy.

The Frenchman told So Foot magazine that he would have more assists if he had better players around him. Both Howe and the player moved quickly to clarify the potentially inflammatory statement.

Following last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool, Saint-Maximin was quoted as saying: “Those who have played with me know very well that in terms of pure quality, I have nothing to envy from (Liverpool winger) Sadio Mane.

“The day when I have a player capable of finishing the actions (from my assists), I will have seasons with 10-15 assists and I will change opinions in the people’s heads.

“Doing things that make an impression, changing the rules, that’s the goal. Like what Michael Jordan managed to do. Jordan, he changed some people’s lives, he gave people work, and that’s the beauty of it.”

Saint-Maximin’s comments did not go down well with the Newcastle fans, and Arab News understands some within the Magpies’ ranks did not appreciate them either. The player took steps to head off any lingering issues with teammates by explaining the comments to Howe, and providing clarity in the dressing room.

“Allan’s quotes didn’t come across in the way that he meant them to,” said Howe. “He was concerned yesterday. In no way did he mean to damage the team or unity. It wasn’t in the context that he meant, although it happened. We will be speaking with the squad and making sure there are no fall-outs.”

Howe also revealed Saint-Maximin is unlikely to face a club fine over the incident.

“Ideally, I wouldn’t want any of my players speaking about anything other than themselves or their own career,” he said. “Players don’t need to talk about other players or other players from other clubs. For me, it’s always about us and protecting the team and everything we say. It’s about giving off united and positive messages, even in difficult moments.

“(I have) no concerns over his mood. I don’t think he’ll be fined for that situation; it’s more a case of education and making sure players know what we expect.”

Saint-Maximin posted a message on Twitter to explain his comments. He said they were not intended to be negative and he was simply speaking “like any fan would.”

He wrote: “The interview I did with So Foot has been taken out of context and shortened on Twitter. I never said anything negative about my teammates, I simply said as any Newcastle fan would that I was looking forward to having an even better team so that we could progress collectively. And that as a result I could also progress individually.”


Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023

Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023
Updated 8 sec ago

Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023

Kingdom’s locally bred horses secure spots at Saudi Cup 2023
  • Neom Cup welcomes newcomer Castle for Prince Saud bin Salman
  • Asfan Al-Khalediah competes in the Manifa Cup for Arabian Horses

RIYADH: The Saudi Cup 2023 evening is gearing up to host several locally bred and trained horses that secured qualifying cards for the accompanying rounds of the world’s most expensive race event from Feb. 24-25.

The locally bred horses distinguished themselves in the Gulf Day races and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Cup, organized by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia, last Friday and Saturday, on the dirt and turf tracks of the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Janadriyah.

Raaed in the 1351 race, Castle in the Neom Cup

Raaed, son of Dark Angel, claimed his sixth victory by winning the Turf Sprint Qualifier 1351 out of a total of 26 entries.

During its racing career, the 6-year-old horse has achieved first-four positions at a rate of 87 percent.

Meanwhile, the Neom Cup is gearing up for the participation of newcomer Castle, Frankel’s son, owned by Prince Saud bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, after winning the Middle Distance Turf Qualifier on Friday in its second successful participation.

The 2,100-meter Neom Cup race will be held on a turf track in the accompanying rounds of The Saudi Cup 2023.

Asfan participates in the Manifa Cup, Pagan runs in the Riyadh Cup

The stable of the sons of Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz competes in the Manifa Cup round for purebred Arabian horses with Asfan Al-Khalediah on the 2,100-meter turf track.

Asfan has prepared well for the race, starting from the Taif Racing Season at King Khalid Equestrian Square in which it won its first prestigious titles, including the tough King Faisal Cup-ranked race for Arabian horses.

Pagan, owned by Fihan bin Faisal Almindeel Sons, has booked its place in the Riyadh Pace Cup, another accompanying round of The Saudi Cup 2023, after winning the 1,200-meter Dirt Sprint Qualifier race.

The 5-year-old horse, son of Sir Prancealot, clocked a record time of 1 minute, 10.29 seconds in its 90-0 Parity Round appearance last season.

My Map reaches the Derby Cup, with Hamdani in the Obeya Cup

My Map presented itself as one of the most promising colts the Saudi field has acquired in recent times as it won the title in its previous races over progressive distances based on the choices of its trainer.

The 3-year-old colt, son of Liam’s Map, owned by Prince Sultan bin Mishal, won the 1,600-meter Saudi Derby Qualifier race on Friday.

Finally, Hamdani Khaled Al-Khalediah won the Al-Diriyah Cup for Arabian horses to reach the Obeya Round at The Saudi Cup 2023.

Hamdani faced fierce competition against Dergham Athbah in the Al-Diriyah Cup race which it won by a nose.

Hamdani’s superb performance in the Al-Diriyah Cup was expected based on its results over the past two years as one of the best Arabian horses in the Al-Khalediah stable.

His victory was the second achievement for Hamdani so far this season, after winning the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia Cup for Arabian horses two months ago.


Strong Carnival lineup could point the way to Dubai World Cup success

Strong Carnival lineup could point the way to Dubai World Cup success
Updated 02 February 2023

Strong Carnival lineup could point the way to Dubai World Cup success

Strong Carnival lineup could point the way to Dubai World Cup success
  • Horses from 8 countries will clash in 7 races at Meydan this weekend

Rain did its best but didn’t manage to stop play at Meydan last week, although it was undoubtedly a soggy affair.

This played to the strengths of the visiting Europeans, however, who managed two wins.

First came the Irish-trained Coachello in the Dubai Sprint, while Good Fortune now owns a slice of history, having become the first Denmark-trained horse to win at the Carnival. A big well done to his trainer, Soren Jensen, who managed the win with just his second-ever runner in the UAE.

On to this week, when there are horses from eight countries clashing across seven races. It’s a very strong card, featuring the G2 Maktoum Challenge Round 2, which should throw up some horses to take their chance in the $12-million Dubai World Cup in March.

The connections of Algiers have that race firmly on their agenda after the gelding’s impressive win in Round 1. He runs here due to not having received an invitation to The Saudi Cup, as yet, and Riyadh’s loss will be Dubai’s gain as he will be hard to beat, although Remorse and Salute The Soldier will be among those trying their best to do just that.

The Group 2 Singspiel Stakes looks a fascinating race, with four Godolphin horses locking horns, including Valiant Prince who beat several of these rivals in the Al-Rashidiya last time out. For the last two years this race has been won by Lord Glitters and his trainer, David O’Meara, has Shelir here.

A fast-finishing second in the Zabeel Mile last time out, the extra 200 meters this time should suit the 7-year-old, so he gets my vote. Another one to watch is Sifting Sands, one of three runners on the night for US trainer Doug O’Neill. Connections have been purring about him and he runs here with a view to switching to dirt later in the Carnival.

Twelve fillies clash in the Group 2 Cape Verdi, among them four for Godolphin who have Group race winners With The Moonlight and Wild Beauty on their side, while Soft Whisper beat several of these in the Ipi Tombe Stakes last time. I can’t choose between them, so maybe it goes to Spain who have Samedi Rien, a closing third to Soft Whisper, in the lineup for trainer Guillermo Arizkoretta. It’ll be tough for her, but these races are meant to be.

The Group 3 Al-Shindagha Sprint will give us a contender for the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen on World Cup night. There isn’t much between the 12 who line up, but Doug Watson has issued a positive bulletin about Mubakker, so he’s my pick. Bhupat Seemar’s Freedom Fighter is another interesting one if able to overcome his wide draw in 13.

Watson could have a good evening as he also runs Legend Of Dubai in the closing handicap. The 5-year-old is a two-time winner in the UK and runs here for the first time, but is well-regarded by his handler and could be hard to beat. Ouzo, trained in the UK by Jamie Osborne, is another who should run well, having finished a close third over course and distance three weeks ago.

It’s nice that Vazirabad, a three-time winner of the G2 Dubai Gold Cup, is being recognized with a race named after him and the 2,410-meter handicap, race two, is a competitive affair. There’s no standout pick, for me, but Final Dance is an eight-time winner on turf in Turkey and should love this extra distance. He’s better than he showed when only eighth behind Algiers last time, so perhaps he can cause an upset in this lower grade.

The evening starts with the Purebred Arabians’ version of Maktoum Challenge Round 2, a Group 1. Watch out for Hiab Al-Zaman, a Grade 1 winner in America, who makes his local debut here for trainer Fawzi Nass.


Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu relishing shot at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu relishing shot at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open
Updated 02 February 2023

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu relishing shot at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open

Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu relishing shot at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open
  • New WTA-500 tournament takes place at Zayed Sports City from Feb. 5-12

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu is delighted to finally see the UAE capital added to the WTA calendar with the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open —a contest that would “mean a lot” to her if she became its first winner.

The 22-year-old Canadian is among the top stars set to compete at the inaugural WTA-500 level event from Feb. 5-12 at the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City.

With the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open being the latest elite tennis event in the city following the 2021 WTA Women’s Tennis Open and the annual exhibition Mubadala World Tennis Championships, Andreescu is relishing the opportunity of returning to the Emirate after being impressed by what she saw during a day trip back in December 2020.

The 2019 US Open champion said: “Whenever there’s a chance that I can play a tournament, I will but specifically for this tournament it’s a WTA 500 and is being staged in a great location in Abu Dhabi.

“I’ve been there before and I always wanted to go back. During my pre-season in December 2020, I traveled to Abu Dhabi for one day and I visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which was amazing.

“It’s really nice that tennis is spreading all around the world and Abu Dhabi is a really nice place. I’ve always thought about why WTA doesn’t have a tournament on its calendar but now it’s here with the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. To be one of the first players to play in the tournament is always nice so I’m very excited to play there.”

The Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open has attracted a strong field including recent Australian Open finalist and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Russian world No. 8 Daria Kasatkina, world No. 9 Belinda Bencic, Russian No. 11 Veronika Kudermetova as well as three-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

Andreescu, who comes into Abu Dhabi following the Hua Hin Championships in Thailand, is fully aware of the stern competition she faces if she wants to claim her fourth WTA title.

“It will be very tough but I am looking forward to it,” said Andreescu, who reached a career high of fourth in the world rankings in 2019. “All of these wonderful women on the tour give me motivation and inspiration to be where they are and where I was before. To be competing alongside them gives me that extra motivation as I do like to play my best tennis against top players. I think I can do well given it’s on hard court, which is a surface I love.”

She added: “I have had a few good matches at the start of the year and played in the Thailand Open this week so hopefully I can continue to do well and get some good matches under my belt and carry that on to the Abu Dhabi tournament. I think right now it is about gaining as many matches as I can since I’ve not played the amount of games that I would I have liked to have played.

“Maybe next week might be my chance. It’s the first edition (of the tournament) so winning it would mean a lot.”

Whether she makes history by becoming the inaugural champion of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open or not, Andreescu insists the tournament will serve as an important platform for the rest of 2023 and has set her sights on adding to her Grand Slam triumphs.

“I would love to win another Grand Slam and another WTA 1000 event,” she said. “I know that it’s possible because I’ve done it before and hoping this year is my year. I don’t want to be too picky but the Australian Open would’ve been nice.

“But looking ahead I’ve always wanted to win the US Open and the next one after that would be Wimbledon. I don’t have the most experience on grass yet but last year I showed some dominance on it so hopefully I can do well in that this year.”


Saudi Cup sees Pogo and Garrus clash in 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc

Saudi Cup sees Pogo and Garrus clash in 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc
Updated 02 February 2023

Saudi Cup sees Pogo and Garrus clash in 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc

Saudi Cup sees Pogo and Garrus clash in 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc
  • British trainer oversaw arguably the two horses’ best seasons in 2022

If there is one trainer who knows how to get the best out of sprinters, it is Charlie Hills, and the British handler is hoping his two contenders in this year’s Group 3 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc at The Saudi Cup meeting on Feb. 25 can show why he has become such an expert with horses over shorter distances.

Hills saddles Pogo and Garrus in the contest, both of whom enjoyed arguably the best seasons of their careers in 2022, and Hills reports the pair are in great form ahead of their seasonal debuts in Saudi Arabia.

“Both horses are in great form and I couldn’t be much happier with them,” he said. “The plan has always been to start both in the race in Saudi and I’m really looking forward to running them as they seem in really rude health.

“The facilities for the horses out there are fantastic and it’s one of those events that you want to be having runners at, so it’s great we’ve got two heading over with live chances.”

Pogo was one of the most improved horses in training on British shores last season having won three times at Group level, including the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Newmarket, and his trainer is very happy with his charge.

Hills said: “He was absolutely brilliant last year and kept a really solid level of form the whole way through the campaign.

“I’ve always believed he was a really good horse as he’s always shown that at home and it’s great that he’s translated his work on the gallops to the track. He’s got a great constitution, takes his racing really well, and just didn’t stop improving.”

The 7-year-old took his form to a new level in 2022 and while Hills admits he did not do anything different with him, he feels a combination of increased maturity and confidence might have been the key.

“Some horses just take a bit longer to develop and he might be one of those,” Hills said. “He’s a real trier and there’s no doubt that last season showed he’s improved as he’s got older.”

Pogo finished fifth in this race 12 months ago and the 11-time Group 1-winning trainer hopes that with the horse in better shape this time around, he might be able to go a few places better.

He said: “The track and trip should really play to his strengths out there. He loves fast ground and hopefully this year’s race will be run a bit more to suit. We’ll probably ride him a touch more patiently this time and with any luck he’ll be bang there.”

Hills is also responsible for Garrus in this year’s 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc, another horse who improved hand over fist in 2022, and like his stablemate, he is in great form ahead of his seasonal reappearance.

“The trip and track should really suit him,” Hills added. “We’ve been really pleased with his run-up to the race, and it looks a really good place to start him off this year.

“The prize money is so good out there and given it’s a race we think should play to his strengths, we’ve had it lined up for a while for him.”


Tatum leads Celtic rout of Nets, Sixers bounce back against Magic

Tatum leads Celtic rout of Nets, Sixers bounce back against Magic
Updated 02 February 2023

Tatum leads Celtic rout of Nets, Sixers bounce back against Magic

Tatum leads Celtic rout of Nets, Sixers bounce back against Magic
  • Prolific Damian Lillard poured in 42 points for a second straight game as the Portland Trail Blazers downed Grizzlies 122-112

LOS ANGELES: Jayson Tatum scored 31 points as the Boston Celtics put the depleted Brooklyn Nets firmly in their place with a brutal 139-96 mauling on Wednesday.

The heavyweight clash between the two Eastern Conference rivals ended with the Nets reeling on the ropes as the Celtics laid down a marker with an emphatic wire-to-wire victory at the TD Garden.

Boston dominated from the outset, running up a remarkable 46 points in the first quarter alone, with Tatum contributing 18 points.

By halftime, the Celtics had raced into a 34-point lead against a Brooklyn side still missing the injured Kevin Durant.

Tatum’s 31-point haul included seven three-pointers from 12-of-19 shooting while Jaylen Brown provided scoring support with 26 points.

Six Boston players finished in double figures after a lopsided rout.

Kyrie Irving led the Brooklyn Nets scoring with 20 points.

“A couple of days off did us good, we felt refreshed,” Boston star Tatum said afterwards. “We have depth and a next-man-up mentality.”

Tatum reserved special praise for Robert Williams III, who finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.

“On any given night, Rob might be the most important guy to our long-term success,” Tatum said.

“To get to where we want to get to, we need Rob on the floor and we need him healthy.”

Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers bounced back from their upset loss to the Orlando Magic on Monday with a comprehensive 105-94 defeat of the Florida club.

The Sixers had been on a roll heading into Monday’s game with seven straight wins, but somehow squandered a 21-point advantage to crash 119-109.

A scheduling quirk meant the Sixers did not have to wait long to avenge that loss, and Philadelphia duly seized the opportunity on Wednesday.

A reinvigorated Sixers side turned the tables with a convincing victory thanks to 28 points from Joel Embiid and 26 points from James Harden.

Harden narrowly missed out on a triple double, finishing with nine rebounds and 10 assists, with a points tally that included six three-pointers.

Markelle Fultz topped the Magic scoring with 18 points.

In Memphis, the prolific Damian Lillard poured in 42 points for a second straight game as the Portland Trail Blazers downed the Grizzlies 122-112.

Lillard, who also had 10 assists and eight rebounds, is now tied with Shaquille O’Neal in 19th place on the rankings of players with the most 40-point games in NBA history.

Lillard, who also scored 42 points in a win over Atlanta on Monday, now has 49 40-point games.

The Blazers talisman chipped in with nine points in the final quarter while Anfernee Simons dropped in 14 as Portland outscored Memphis 38-22 in the fourth to claim victory.

Ja Morant finished with 32 points for Memphis, who at one stage led by 12 points before Portland clawed their way back into the contest.

“We were down, and they’re a great team, but we’re a team that’s dealt with a lot this season and we feel like we felt the bottom,” Lillard said.

“And the one thing we do have is our togetherness. We’ve learned to fight our way out of things and I think we’ve learned to fight out of a tough place.

“We were put in a position with our back against the wall tonight and we responded the way real connected teams do.”

Lillard led Portland’s scoring while Simons finished with 26 points and Jerami Grant 18.

Portland improved to 25-26 with the win, putting them just outside the play-in positions in 11th place in the Western Conference.

In Minneapolis, meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves avenged their biggest defeat of the season with a 119-114 overtime victory against the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors had thumped the Timberwolves 137-114 in November but found the going harder on Wednesday.

Although Stephen Curry bagged 29 points for Golden State, Minnesota ground out victory thanks to big contributions from D’Angelo Russell (29 points), Anthony Edwards (27) and Naz Reid (24).