Ex-Algeria, Porto star Madjer gets jail term for fraud

Ex-Algeria, Porto star Madjer gets jail term for fraud
An Algerian court sentenced one-time Porto star and ex-national coach Rabah Madjer to six months in jail for making "false declarations". (AFP/File)
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Updated 09 June 2022

Ex-Algeria, Porto star Madjer gets jail term for fraud

Ex-Algeria, Porto star Madjer gets jail term for fraud
  • Charges of forgery and fraud were dropped
  • Madjer and a co-defendant were jailed and ordered to pay $3,435 to the national publishing and advertising agency

ALGIERS: An Algerian court on Thursday sentenced one-time Porto star and ex-national coach Rabah Madjer to six months in jail on Thursday for making “false declarations,” local media reported.
Madjer, who owned two newspapers, was found to have continued to bank cheques from a public advertising agency for a year after the papers were closed.
Charges of forgery and fraud were dropped.
But the 63-year-old and a co-defendant named as Brahim M. were jailed and ordered to pay 500,000 dinars ($3,435) to the national publishing and advertising agency (ANEP).
The Algerian famously scored for Porto against Bayern Munich in the 1987 European Cup final with an audacious back-heel — a move later named after him.
He also scored a crucial goal in a 2-1 victory against West Germany in the 1982 World Cup.
He later went on to coach Algeria’s national football team, but after eight months in the job, he was sacked in June 2018 after a string of defeats.


Verstappen takes pole for Spanish Grand Prix

Verstappen takes pole for Spanish Grand Prix
Updated 21 sec ago

Verstappen takes pole for Spanish Grand Prix

Verstappen takes pole for Spanish Grand Prix
MONTMELO, Spain: World champion Max Verstappen claimed his maiden pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix after leading qualifying Saturday on the Montmelo circuit outside Barcelona.
The championship leader took his fifth pole of a season already dominated by Red Bull to start ahead of Ferrari’s Spanish driver Carlos Sainz with Britain’s Lando Norris of McLaren in third.
“Not bad,” said Verstappen, with his customary understatement. “It’s very nice to come here and get my first pole. I like the circuit and I have a lot of good memories here.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took fifth place on the grid, ahead of Canadian Lance Stroll of Aston Martin.
Local hero Fernando Alonso could only set the ninth fastest time after damaging his car when going off the track in the second qualifying period.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Alpine, who took third place in Monaco last weekend, will start in seventh, ahead of German Nico Huelkenberg of Haas, while Australian Oscar Piastri will complete the top 10 in a McLaren.
Qualifying was contested on a slippery track at the start of the session and it featured several big surprises.
First it was Monaco’s Charles Leclerc who was eliminated in Q1 and he will only start in 19th and penultimate place.
Then Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, Mexican Sergio Pérez, who made a mistake and took a lap in the gravel, was taken out in Q2 and will start in 11th, ahead of Briton George Russell, who also disappointed with the other Mercedes.

Al-Ahly and Wydad set for battle in all-Arab CAF Champions League final

Al-Ahly and Wydad set for battle in all-Arab CAF Champions League final
Updated 20 min 12 sec ago

Al-Ahly and Wydad set for battle in all-Arab CAF Champions League final

Al-Ahly and Wydad set for battle in all-Arab CAF Champions League final
  • Egyptian and Moroccan giants will face off in first leg of Africa’s showpiece final in Cairo on Sunday

DUBAI: The only thing that can be said with certainty as Africa looks forward to its Champions League final is that the trophy will be won by an Arab team.

But, then, it usually is, as Al-Ahly of Egypt and Wydad AC of Morocco, who meet in Sunday’s first leg in Cairo, know better than most.

This will mark the third time in seven editions that these two giants of African and Arab football have met with the trophy sitting on the sidelines. They also locked horns in the semifinal of the 2020 edition when the Egyptians ran out comfortable winners.

There have been 16 Arab champions in the last 25 years, and in that time there was only 2009 when none from the region reached the final. Instead, TP Mazembe, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, defeated Nigeria’s Heartland.

We are in familiar territory for the two finalists, but the situation has changed since last year when Wydad ran out 2-0 winners in a single game on home soil. To start with, this is a home-and-away affair, with Egypt hosting on Sunday and the action moving to Morocco a week later.

Al-Ahly, who already hold the record for continental titles, with 10 trophies in the bank, are in a better place than they were in May last year. Then, in the dying days of the Pitso Mosimane regime, the Red Giants reached the final, but were struggling to cope with the demands of competing in the league, Africa and also the Club World Cup. Ahead of the last final, the league was slipping away and criticism was increasing.

This time, however, Al-Ahly also have lots of games in hand — they have played five games fewer than Pyramids in second — but are still a point clear.  Their league record has been amazing, with 19 wins, five draws and no defeats in the 24 games so far.

Under Swiss boss Marcel Koller, who replaced Mosimane’s short-lived successor Ricardo Soares in September, the Egyptians have been a winning machine. The league is almost in the bag. Adding the Champions League really will make it a perfect season.

The early stages of the African journey were rough and they only made it through in second, four points behind Mamelodi Sundowns, and ahead of Al-Hilal of Sudan only due to a better head-to-head record. 

The knockout stages have been more comfortable, however. Raja CA, Wydad’s Casablanca neighbors, were defeated 2-0 over two legs in the quarterfinals, while Esperance de Tunis were beaten 4-0. Take away the seven goals conceded in the group stage in two games against Mamelodi, then Al-Ahly have conceded just eight times in 32 league and Champions League games this season. The size of Wydad’s task is there for all to see.

Even after the 1-0 league win over Ceramica Cleopatra on Monday, Koller was still demanding more.

“After scoring, we lost our concentration and neglected defense, and we could have been punished since they got several chances to even the score,” the Swiss boss said. “I am saying it clearly: We need more determination and concentration in the Wydad game. If we repeat the same performance against Ceramica, we will not achieve our target.”

There is a boost for the club, which had been sweating on the fitness of all four goalkeepers, but first choice Mohamed El-Shenawy has recovered from a calf injury.

Al-Ahly may be glad that Wydad squeezed past Mamelodi on away goals in the semifinals, as the South Africans were impressive in the group stages. It also gives a chance for revenge for last year.

Wydad are going for a second successive championship and a fourth in total. That win in May started a great few months for Moroccan football. Not long after Walid Regragui led Wydad to the title, he left to take over the national team. It barely needs to be said again, but at the World Cup he took the Atlas Lions to the last four. Left-back Yahia Attiyah Allah and Yahya Jabrane both played their part in that magical run to the semifinals and will be in action against Al-Ahly.

After winning their group, they eliminated Tanzania’s Simba on penalties and then needed away goals to get past Mamelodi. With four games of the league season remaining, they are fighting for the title with FAR Rabat and are currently just a point behind.

There have been plenty of changes on the sidelines, with three successors to Regragui before Sven Vandenbroeck took over in May. The Belgian, who has extensive experience in Africa, was last seen in charge of Abha in Saudi Arabia, but now has the opportunity to be the first from his country to win the biggest club prize in African club football.

“I don’t feel a huge pressure. It is logical to play for all titles when you take the charge of a team that has a long history of winning trophies,” Vandenbroeck said. “Ahly will be seeking revenge for the last time. So, the most important thing for me is to remain calm and unified as a group.”

After Regragui, Vandenbroeck has big shoes to fill, but there are also unrelenting demands on Al-Ahly to keep winning. It is all set for a fascinating encounter.


Nadal faces ‘five months recovery’ after keyhole surgery on hip

Nadal faces ‘five months recovery’ after keyhole surgery on hip
Updated 03 June 2023

Nadal faces ‘five months recovery’ after keyhole surgery on hip

Nadal faces ‘five months recovery’ after keyhole surgery on hip
  • The 22-time Grand Slam title winner, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Saturday, could in theory be back in time for the Davis Cup finals in November
  • Nadal said last month that the hip injury had not healed as well as he had hoped and therefore he was taking more time out of the sport

MADRID: Rafael Nadal’s keyhole surgery on his injured hip was “positive” but he will require a five-month recovery period before playing again, his spokesman said Saturday.
The 22-time Grand Slam title winner, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Saturday, could in theory be back in time for the Davis Cup finals in November.
However, it is likely he will sit out the rest of the season before resuming in 2024 which he has already said will be the last year of his career.
“The surgery was positive,” said his spokesman of the procedure which was carried out in Barcelona.
“The normal recovery process is estimated at five months.”
Nadal said last month that the hip injury had not healed as well as he had hoped and therefore he was taking more time out of the sport.
The Spaniard missed the ongoing French Open, which he has won 14 times, for the first time since 2004.
He will also sit out Wimbledon, where he is a two-time champion, next month.
Nadal had hoped the injury he suffered in a second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January would heal in six weeks.
While he recovers, old rival Novak Djokovic has the chance to break out of the tie for 22 majors by winning a third French Open.
On Friday, Djokovic reached the last 16 in Paris for the 14th successive year and will face Juan Pablo Virallas, the 94th-ranked Peruvian, on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals.


Ailing Elena Rybakina withdraws from French Open

Ailing Elena Rybakina withdraws from French Open
Updated 03 June 2023

Ailing Elena Rybakina withdraws from French Open

Ailing Elena Rybakina withdraws from French Open
  • ‘I was not feeling good yesterday and the day before. I didn’t sleep last night’
  • World number four had been due to face Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in the third round

PARIS: World number four Elena Rybakina withdrew from the French Open on Saturday due to illness, handing a significant and unexpected title boost to defending champion Iga Swiatek as Zhang Zhizhen chased history for China.
Rybakina had been due to face Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in the third round in the opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I was not feeling good yesterday and the day before. I didn’t sleep last night,” said the 23-year-old Wimbledon champion.
“I had fever and a headache and it’s difficult to breathe. I tried to play in the warm-up but I feel it’s the right decision to withdraw.”
Rybakina had swept into the last 32 without dropping a set.
The Russian-born Kazakh was seen as a potential champion having arrived at Roland Garros with the prestigious Italian Open clay court title under her belt.
She had been seeded to face two-time champion Swiatek in the semifinals.
“I guess with my allergy that my immune system just went down and I picked up something,” said Rybakina. “The doctor said there’s a virus in Paris.”
Rybakina said she will focus on recovery ahead of defending her title at Wimbledon which gets underway on July 3.
“The plan was to play Berlin, Eastbourne, and Wimbledon. There are not many tournaments on grass, but the most important thing is to get healthy again.”
Sorribes Tormo, ranked 132 in the world, will be playing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.
She will face either Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia or Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia for a place in the quarter-finals.
Later Saturday, world number one Swiatek takes on China’s 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu for a place in the last 16 as she continues her bid to become the first back-to-back champion since Justine Henin in 2007.
Zhang meets world number four and last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud hoping to become the first Chinese man since Kho Sin-Khie in 1936 to make the last 16 in Paris.
Zhang, ranked 71, had never won a Grand Slam main draw match until this French Open but he had announced himself as a capable clay-courter by reaching the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open last month.
“For me, it’s not pressure to be here,” said the 26-year-old.
“I’m trying to show my best self, show everything what I have and try to compete with these guys. That’s the reason I’m here. It’s no pressure for me.”
Russian 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, the breakout star of Roland Garros, faces 2022 runner-up and sixth-ranked Coco Gauff for a place in the fourth round.
Andreeva came through qualifying and has made a mockery of her world ranking of 143 by dropping just six games in two rounds in the main draw.
The France-based Russian is the youngest player to make the last 32 since a 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva went to the 2005 quarter-finals.
She is just the seventh player under the age of 17 to make the third round in 30 years, a group that includes the likes of serial Slam champions Serena Williams and Martina Hingis.
“My dream? I know that Novak Djokovic did 22 Grand Slams so I want to go until 25,” said Andreeva who played the junior tournament in Paris last year.
Holger Rune, who reached the quarter-finals on his debut in 2022, takes on Argentina’s Genaro Alberto Olivieri.
The 231st-ranked Argentine has dedicated his run to the third round to his father who passed away during pandemic.
“He was my sidekick, the person who helped me in every way — psychologically, emotionally,” said the 24-year-old.
“I always remember him. I hope he is now watching everything that is happening to me this week and that he has an even bigger smile than I do.”


The highs and lows of Roshn Saudi League 2022-23

The highs and lows of Roshn Saudi League 2022-23
Updated 03 June 2023

The highs and lows of Roshn Saudi League 2022-23

The highs and lows of Roshn Saudi League 2022-23
  • A campaign like no other saw Cristiano Ronaldo move to Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stall and Al-Ittihad end a 14-year drought

A Roshn Saudi League campaign like no other is in the books.

Jeddah giants Al-Ittihad ended their long wait for top-flight glory, while Al-Batin and Al-Adalah dropped into Yelo League.

A series of other substantial events occurred throughout a remarkable campaign which transformed preconceived notions about the Middle East’s premier club competition.

From Cristiano Ronaldo’s paradigm-shifting, mid-season Al-Nassr switch to Al-Hilal’s historic run at the FIFA Club World Cup and beyond, here are Arab News’ highlights from a memorable 2022-23.

Best player

A new benchmark was set for goalkeeping excellence by Ittihad’s Marcelo Grohe.

The Brazil custodian surged past the previous record of 14 clean sheets in a single Pro League campaign, ending with an official Opta tally of 18 (which would be 19 if he had not been afforded deserved adulation by a late substitution in the season finale vs. Al-Tai).

His 58 saves occurred in a title campaign which saw him beaten only 13 times. Remarkably, it took until match week six for him to concede.

Ittihad’s success was built from the back and Grohe laid firm foundations.

Best coach

Ittihad’s missing ingredient to end a 14-year title wait proved to be Nuno Santo.

Last season’s agonizing near miss under Cosmin Contra left a sense of desolation and desire for change. The club’s turn to their bearded ex-Valencia, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur supremo proved astute.

Defensive rigidity was instilled as Egypt center-back Ahmed Hegazi became his conduit on the pitch, with Ittihad letting in five fewer goals than anyone else. But this did not come at a cost up top, with a second-best tally of 60 goals scored helped by 21-goal top marksman Abderrazak Hamdallah.

March’s astute 2-0 victory vs. Nassr and April’s roller coaster 2-1 win against Al-Shabab — more on that later — proved critical junctures.

Breakthrough moment

Saudi Arabian football changed forever on December 30, 2022.

This was when Ronaldo’s heralded arrival was announced and a proud footballing nation’s limitless sporting ambitions became real.

The ex-Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid forward could not deliver silverware for Nassr, despite notching an impressive 14 times in 16 top-flight outings. That must wait for next season.

But he did deliver vast global attention, booming interest in television rights — 48 channels/platforms now broadcast to 170 countries — and packed stands wherever he performed.

Ronaldo has helped set a course for Roshn Saudi League to enter the “top-five leagues in the world.” Enormous intrigue surrounds which stellar names will join him on this quest.

Breakthrough performer

Saudi Arabia’s lineage of elite strikers, from Majed Abdullah to Nasser Al-Shamrani, appears in safe hands with Firas Al-Buraikan.
The Al-Fateh star — who started World Cup 2022’s group-stage victory vs. eventual-champions Argentina — produced a career-best 17 top-flight goals, two more than he had netted in every other campaign combined since his bow in April 2018. This eye-catching tally was enough to make him the league’s fourth-highest scorer.

Best signing

Al-Khaleej required a source of inspiration — and they found one in Fabio Martins.

Pedro Emanuel’s promoted side were 15th on four points prior to the ex-Shabab loanee’s mid-season procurement on a free transfer after an unfulfilled spell at the UAE’s Al-Wahda.

A trio of rejuvenating victories followed in the Portuguese winger’s opening three matches. Martins ended the campaign on seven goals and three assists from 17 run-outs, with Khaleej finishing safe in 14th.

Signing who failed to spark

It seemed the perfect winter replacement for the irreplaceable David Ospina.

Nassr swiftly reacted to the Colombia goalkeeper’s serious elbow injury by loaning Agustin Rossi. The 27-year-old had amassed more than 100 league run-outs for Boca Juniors, been previously called up by Argentina and performed to such a high standard that a pre-contract had been agreed with 2022 Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo.

Reality, however, would prove distinctly underwhelming. February’s shaky debut in a 2-2 draw at Al-Fateh saw him swiftly displaced by Nawaf Al-Aqidi and he only started again two months later when the Saudi Arabia prospect suffered fitness issues of his own.

Best match

“Epic” barely does justice to April 27’s unforgettable 2-1 victory for Ittihad over Shabab.

This was a contest from which three penalties were scored, one critical spot-kick was missed and an 106th-minute winner cemented long-held title aspirations for the victor, while crushing those of the vanquished.

Hamdallah and Cristian Guanca exchanged efforts from 12 yards in an ultra-competitive top-three clash. Referee Srdjan Jovanovic would again point to the spot in the 89th minute, this time for Al-Shabab.

Conjecture followed when Gabon forward Aaron Boupendza took on penalty duties. His “Panenka” chip floated harmlessly into the arms of a grateful Grohe.

Fast forward a quarter of an hour at an electrified King Abdullah Sports City and Hamdallah lobbed home his own penalty. Cue pandemonium in this game for the ages.

Best goal

Ronaldo’s free-kick abilities remained sharp with a sensational 38-yard strike which sparked March’s rousing comeback victory against Abha.

Valuable points appeared to be draining away after Nassr loanee Abdulfattah Adam’s early opener for the visitors went without reply.

This was until the 78th minute when Ronaldo unleashed a ferocious low effort from distance which swerved past the despairing grasp of Cameroon’s emergent 2022 World Cup No. 1, Devis Epassy.

Outstanding achievement

Stratospherically high standards at Hilal mean the 2022-23 season will always be tinged by disappointment.

But this does not provide full context. The Riyadh heavyweights competed with distinction on all fronts, despite a transfer ban and punishing schedule which would have derailed other clubs.

They became the first Asian outfit to reach a FIFA Club World Cup showpiece final, made the final of their AFC Champions League defense and secured a top-three Roshn Saudi League finish.

The dramatic penalty shootout victory — after Ali Al-Bulaihi’s 99th-minute leveler vs.  Al-Wehda — in the King’s Cup decider will never be forgotten.