Egypt stand in way of Saudi Arabia and glory at 2022 Arab Cup U-20

Egypt stand in way of Saudi Arabia and glory at 2022 Arab Cup U-20
A sell-out crowd will see if Saudi Arabia can defeat Egypt in the final of the 2022 Arab Cup U-20 Championships on Sunday. (@SaudiNT)
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Updated 06 August 2022

Egypt stand in way of Saudi Arabia and glory at 2022 Arab Cup U-20

Egypt stand in way of Saudi Arabia and glory at 2022 Arab Cup U-20
  • The Kingdom’s Abdullah Radif and Egypt’s Salah Basha have been two of the tournament’s outstanding players

A sell-out crowd will see if Saudi Arabia can defeat Egypt in the final of the 2022 Arab Cup U-20 Championships on Sunday and become the first team in the tournament’s history to win successive titles.

It is not only a battle between two giants of the Arab world — one from Asia, one from Africa — but between two talented young players who have already lit up the tournament.

All 20,000 tickets were quickly sold in the Saudi city of Abha once the semi-finals were negotiated by the host nation.

Wednesday’s clash was a stroll in the park for the young Green Falcons as they thrashed Palestine 5-0.

Saudi Arabia took maximum points from the group stage, which was contested by 18 teams from two continents. It included a 4-1 defeat against what was seen as a strong Iraqi team.

The signs, then, are good, and even the quarter-final penalty shootout win over Yemen can be seen as evidence that the Saudi team can deliver when the pressure is on.

The victory over Palestine was a performance from a team that is in form and full of confidence.

After a slow start, Saudi Arabia took control after 36 minutes as Mohammed Sulaiman opened the scoring.

Then two goals from Abdullah Radif put the home team firmly in control, and faint hopes of a comeback from Palestine were quashed when Abdulaziz Al-Aliwa and Saleh Al-Rahmani got in on the act.

There are no injuries for coach Saleh Al-Mohammadi to deal with, though midfielder Abdullah Al-Zaid will be absent through suspension.

“We know that we will face a tough test against Egypt,” said Al-Mohammadi, who has seen his team have the best offensive and defensive record in the tournament, with 11 goals scored and just one conceded.

“They have done well to get to the final, and so have we. It should be a good game between two strong teams, and we know that we have to prepare to be at our best.”

The boss will be looking to Radif, whose brace against Algeria took his tally to six for the tournament, and the Al-Hilal star has given his club coach Ramon Diaz a reminder that there is talent in the squad.

For now, however, the 19-year-old is focused on Egypt, who know they need to stop the star if they are to avenge their 3-2 loss against Saudi Arabia in the semi-final of the 2021 edition.

“Saudi Arabia have some very good players and are a strong team,” said Egypt coach Mahmoud Gaber. “But in a final, you are always going to face tough opposition, and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Egypt also won their group by winning both their games, and then faced their first major scare when they had to come from a goal down to defeat Morocco 2-1 in the quarter-finals.

A 3-1 win over another North African giant, Algeria, secured a first-ever place in a final after losing in the last four on the last two occasions.

“We have improved as the tournament has progressed, and the team is gaining experience and knows more about how to control the rhythm of the game,” said Gaber. “We are also improving in terms of set pieces, and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

While Saudi Arabia have Radif, Egypt possess a star of their own in Salah Basha. The 19-year-old forward plays his club football for Udinese, joining the Italian club in 2018 from Al-Ahly, and got on the scoresheet against Morocco and Algeria. 

“He is a very good player. He does well when he is in the penalty area. If we are on the attacking side, he will score,” said Gaber.

The player with an Italian mother and Egyptian father has reportedly caught the attention of senior national team coach Rui Vitoria, who could move to give the youngster a full international cap sooner rather than later to ensure that he chooses to represent the Pharaohs rather than the Azzurri.

For now, however, the focus is on Saudi Arabia. The destination of the Arab U-20 Cup may be determined by which star, the Saudi or the Egyptian, shines brightest.


Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault

Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault
Updated 59 min 53 sec ago

Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault

Former Man United star Giggs goes on trial for assault
  • Giggs is charged with assaulting his former girlfriend, PR executive Kate Greville, causing her bodily harm

LONDON: Former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs stands trial Monday on charges of attacking and coercively controlling his ex-girlfriend, in a case that has upended his managerial career.

The 48-year-old, who until recently served as coach of the Wales national team, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum jail term of five years.

The jury trial at a crown court in Manchester was set to open at 10:30 am (0930 GMT), presided over by judge Hilary Manley. It is expected to last 10 days.

Giggs is charged with assaulting his former girlfriend, PR executive Kate Greville, causing her actual bodily harm on Nov. 1, 2020, when police were called to his home in the Manchester area.

The Welshman is further charged with common assault of her younger sister, Emma Greville, on the same day.

He also faces a charge of controlling and coercive behavior toward Kate Greville throughout their relationship, which began in 2017 and ended with the alleged assault.

The charge specifies that his behavior toward Greville, 36, included the use of “isolation, belittling, humiliation, harassment, degradation and abuse.”

Giggs was arrested by police at his home in November 2020 and released on bail.

He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty at an initial court appearance in April last year.

His trial was due to be heard in January but it was delayed due to a backlog of court cases caused by the Covid pandemic.

Giggs’s lawyer, Chris Daw, has acted for high-profile sports figures including former England and Chelsea football captain John Terry, who was found not guilty of racially abusing fellow player Anton Ferdinand in 2012.

Giggs resigned as the Wales manager in June, after being on leave since his arrest.

He said he did not want “continued interest around this case” to affect the team as it prepares for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

He remains on conditional bail, and has said he looks forward to “clearing my name.”

A dazzling teenage talent, Giggs ended his career at Old Trafford as the most-decorated player in English football history.

As a player, Giggs made a club-record 963 appearances over 23 years for Manchester United, winning 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League trophies.

He then began his coaching career at Old Trafford, taking temporary charge at the end of the 2013/14 season after David Moyes was sacked before working as an assistant to Louis van Gaal for two years.

Giggs was appointed Wales boss in January 2018 and helped them secure qualification for Euro 2020, just their second major tournament appearance since the 1958 World Cup.

His trial opens shortly before another court case involving a star footballer, Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy.

The Frenchman is set to go on trial on Wednesday in Chester, northwest England, accused of rape and assault in a case involving seven women.

Mendy, who has been suspended by City, denies the allegations.


Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose

Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose
Updated 08 August 2022

Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose

Seventh-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina triumphs in San Jose
  • Kasatkina rallied from one set down after dropping the opener in a tiebreaker and beat unseeded American Shelby Rogers for the championship, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2

SAN JOSE, California: Daria Kasatkina fell to the ground in triumph and laid on her back for several moments after attacking a short ball off her serve and putting it away with a forehand winner on match point.

A dramatic comeback victory sealed Sunday at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, the Russian star then turned back to the big picture in her topsy-turvy world: “I want to thank every single person who is sharing now this moment with us on this beautiful court, thank you guys,” she told the crowd at San Jose State University while accepting her trophy. “I want to wish you, everyone, a lot of love, happiness and ... peace in this world.”

The seventh-seeded Kasatkina rallied from one set down after dropping the opener in a tiebreaker and beat unseeded American Shelby Rogers for the championship, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2.

The 25-year-old Kasatkina immediately found her rhythm again following a frustrating tiebreaker in a first set she had led 4-2 and 5-3 before some mistakes in crucial moments, such as double faults. Now, her first title this year and fifth overall will propel her back into this week’s top-10 rankings — and No. 10 is her previous career best.

“It’s a tough journey, which is still going on. I’m happy with the way things are going, especially this season, but I don’t want to stop, because I did this mistake already one time and I don’t want to repeat it,” she said. “I’m still hungry for the wins.”

Kasatkina lost here in last year’s championship. She became the first player to make consecutive finals in the event since Serena Williams in 2011-12 and earned her first title since St. Petersburg last year — snapping a two-match skid in finals, having lost last year here and at Birmingham. It also was her 200th career main draw win on tour.

“I feel great, every year better and better, I wonder what it’s going to be next year,” Kasatkina said.

Now, off to Toronto for the next tournament.

“We’re very happy because of the great job that she’s doing we have now the result here. We are super proud of Daria because she’s a great champion,” coach Carlos Martinez said, pleased with Kasatkina’s resilience after falling behind a set. “... She’s fighting ‘til the end, fighting for every single ball. She’s very consistent.”

Early on, Rogers scampered all over the court to keep long baseline rallies alive before closing out points or forcing Kasatkina into an error. By the third set, she was slapping her leg in frustration and growling aloud, though she said afterward how much she appreciated the support of the crowd cheering her name and holding signs reading “GO SHELBY!”

Rogers rallied in the first set, playing impressive comeback tennis for a second straight day. She trailed 4-2 and 5-3 before going up 6-5, then holding on to win the first set. Kasatkina double-faulted to make it 6-1 in the tiebreaker.

Kasatkina then gathered herself.

“I played really solid. I thought I picked my chances well and was aggressive when I needed to be, was patient when I needed to be,” Rogers said. “She made me hit a lot of balls, she hits a lot of balls back, she’s one of the best movers on the tour. The wind started to pick up. She started putting a little more pace on the ball and being a little more aggressive, too, and just reset after that first set.”

Rogers defeated No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday in the semifinals — trailing Kudermetova 4-3 in the second set before breaking serve twice while winning three straight games to pull out the match.

In the earlier doubles final Sunday, fourth-seeded Chinese pair of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan defeated the unseeded duo of Shuko Aoyama from Japan and Chan Hao-Ching of Taiwan 7-5, 6-0. They will face off in the first round this week in Toronto for an immediate rematch.


Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown
Updated 08 August 2022

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown

Kyrgios ends title drought at Citi Open; Samsonova takes women’s crown
  • This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month

WASHINGTON: Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios ended a three-year title drought by claiming the trophy at the site of his last triumph, saving the only break point he faced in the Citi Open final Sunday along the way to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka.

Kyrgios’ seventh career tour-level championship came where his sixth did in 2019 — on the hard courts of the US Open tuneup in the American capital.

Earlier Sunday, Liudmila Samsonova won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Citi Open women’s final.

As usual when Kyrgios is on his game, the serve led the way for the 27-year-old Australian: He hit 12 aces and won 22 of 25 first-serve points. He won all nine of his service games against Nishioka, making him 64 for 64 in the tournament, wrapping up the week by saving all 10 of his opponents’ break points. The only one Kyrgios had to deal with Sunday came at 3-2 in the first set, and Kyrgios dismissed it via a volley winner.

At the other end, Kyrgios managed to break Japan’s Nishioka, who is ranked 96th and eliminated top-seeded Andrey Rublev in the semifinals, three times — in the opening game of each set and again in the match’s final game.

This marks quite a bit of unusual consistency for Kyrgios, who was coming off a run to his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club, where he lost to Novak Djokovic last month. Kyrgios did not get any rankings points for that showing — there were no points awarded to anyone at Wimbledon — but the title in Washington will push him from 63rd to 37th, within shouting range of a possible seeding at the US Open.

Play begins at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 29. That is less than a week after a court hearing in Australia is scheduled for a common assault allegation against Kyrgios.

Samsonova is a 23-year-old Russian who reached a career-best ranking of 25th in May but is currently 60th after needing to sit out part of the season, including Wimbledon, because of her country’s attack on Ukraine. She used a powerful serve that reached 119 mph against Kanepi to make her way through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her first trophy since 2013. She left the court for a medical timeout in the third set Sunday because of what she said was an abdominal muscle problem.

“I guess a lot of matches and a lot of serving this week,” Kanepi said.

Kyrgios’ victory was shown on Tennis Channel, which shunted the women’s final off its main station and instead aired pickleball — because, tournament chairman Mark Ein said, of a prior commitment.

Both women are quite capable of terrific serving and showed so right away: Kanepi closed out her first service game with a 96 mph ace; Samsonova finished off hers with a 112 mph service winner.

“She served better than me today,” Kanepi said, “and maybe that was the key.”

Samsonova’s take? The vital factor was her ability to eventually attack Kanepi’s serve.

This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid, 90-degree Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) afternoon. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to the players during changeovers; Samsonova held a plastic bag filled with ice atop her head.

Samsonova earned her first break opportunity of the match an hour in, when Kanepi dumped a forehand into the net. Samsonova converted it and went ahead 4-3 when Kanepi sailed a backhand long.

Kanepi’s mistakes kept mounting and, suddenly, the second set belonged to Samsonova as part of a five-game run.

Helped by a double-fault, Samsonova broke to lead 5-3 in the third, then served it out.


Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up

Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up
Updated 08 August 2022

Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up

Australia win historic cricket gold at Commonwealth Games as athletics wraps up
  • Hot favorites Australia held their nerve to beat India by nine runs in a Twenty20 thriller in front of a big Edgbaston crowd
  • Muir, who won bronze in the 800m on Saturday, kicked for glory before the bell and ran a fairly moderate field — lacking two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon — ragged, timing 4min 02.75sec

BIRMINGHAM: Australia won the first women’s cricket gold medal in Commonwealth Games history on Sunday as Scotland’s Laura Muir captured the 1500m title on the final night of athletics.

On the penultimate day of competition in Birmingham, England’s women won hockey gold and Australia beat Jamaica in the netball final.

With just a few events to go on Monday, Australia lead the way with 66 golds, 11 ahead of hosts England.

Hot favorites Australia held their nerve to beat India by nine runs in a Twenty20 thriller in front of a big Edgbaston crowd.

Opener Beth Mooney top-scored with 61 as Australia made 161-8 in their 20 overs in the warm sunshine.

India appeared to be on course for a shock win when they were cruising at 118-2.

But the dismissals of Jemimah Rodrigues (33) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur (65) sapped their momentum and they fell frustratingly short.

Australia partied on the pitch as the lights went out around the stadium.

“It’s absolutely huge,” said left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen.

“We are blessed enough to be part of some winning World Cup teams but to win the first gold medal for women’s cricket in the Commonwealth Games, you’re only ever going to do that once.”

Victory underlines the dominance of Australia’s women, who are also world champions in the 20-over and 50-over formats.

In the bronze medal match earlier on Sunday, New Zealand coasted to an eight-wicket win over England.

Muir ended her Commonwealth Games campaign with a flourish by winning gold in the 1500m at the Alexander Stadium.

The 29-year-old’s team-mate, 10,000m champion Eilish McColgan, just failed in her bid for memorable double, finishing second behind Kenya’s impressive world silver medallist Beatrice Chebet in the women’s 5,000m.

Muir, who won bronze in the 800m on Saturday, kicked for glory before the bell and ran a fairly moderate field — lacking two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon — ragged, timing 4min 02.75sec.

The Olympic silver medalist was overjoyed, having failed to medal in 2014 and missing the 2018 Games due to veterinary exams.

“You learn from it and your time will come,” said Muir. “It sounds cheesy but it’s true. Eight years of Commonwealths and it’s been bugging me so this means a lot.”

Wyclife Kinyamal defended his men’s 800m crown in a time of 1:47.52.

It was an impressive turnaround for the 25-year-old, who finished last in the final of the world championships in July.

“Eugene (the world final) was disappointing but it is just like any race,” he said. “Because if today you win, tomorrow you lose.

“I guess because I failed there, I looked forward to coming here to defend my title.”

New Zealand cyclist Aaron Gate won the men’s road race to collect his fourth gold medal of the Commonwealth Games.

“Three felt great and I was super happy with that,” said Gate, who won three track events earlier in the Games.

“I came here today and managed to help the team, and if the opportunity arose to go for a fourth one I just had to grab it with both hands.”

In the women’s race, Australia’s Georgia Baker won her third gold of the games.

England won hockey gold for the first time after holding off a fightback from Australia to win 2-1.

Second-quarter goals from Holly Hunt and Tess Howard ultimately provided decisive 24 hours after the men’s team had suffered semifinal despair at the hands of Australia.

Australia’s men, who are six-time defending champions, take on India in the final on Monday.

There was more joy for Australia in the netball competition, with a 55-51 over Jamaica in the final.

Australia also shone at the Sandwell Aquatics Center, wrapping up the diving competition in style.

Cassiel Rousseau took the men’s 10m platform title and Maddison Keeney won her second gold of the games in the women’s 3m springboard.

England’s Delicious Orie won super heavyweight gold on a busy night of boxing, beating India’s Sagar Ahlawat.

India won three other golds in boxing but Northern Ireland took five, including a special double for Aidan Walsh and his sister Michaela.


Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff

Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff
Updated 08 August 2022

Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff

Ashleigh Buhai claims Women’s British Open in playoff
  • For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth

MUIRFIELD, Scotland: After seeing a five-shot lead slip away in the final round, Ashleigh Buhai still managed to secure a first major title at the Women’s British Open.

Buhai kept her composure to beat In Gee Chun — and the setting sun — in a playoff at Muirfield on Sunday for her first career victory in an LPGA Tour event.

With the light fading, the South African golfer made a superb bunker shot on the fourth playoff hole to leave herself with a short par putt, while Chun settled for a bogey.

The 33-year-old Buhai calmly rolled in from less than three feet and then clutched her face in relief, before being drenched in water and other beverages by her entourage.

“I was surprisingly calm,” Buhai said about the clutch bunker shot that secured the victory. “My caddie said to me on the last one, I don’t want to brag, but she said ‘Show them why you’re No. 1 in bunkers this year.’ So, you know, she gave me the confidence. Maybe it’s got something to do with Muirfield and South Africans and bunker shots.”

Ernie Els also won the men’s British Open in a playoff at Muirfield in 2002 after a memorable bunker shot during the final round. This was the first time the Women’s British Open was played at Muirfield, a club that didn’t even allow female members until 2019 following a vote two years earlier.

Buhai made things a lot more difficult than they had to be, though.

She entered the final round with a commanding five-shot lead and was still three strokes ahead before a triple bogey on the par-4 15th that put her level with Chun.

Both players missed long birdie putts on the 18th as they settled for a playoff after finishing on 10-under 274.

“I know there are a lot of people in South Africa with lots of gray hairs right now after that 15th hole,” Buhai said. “But I’m very proud of myself, the way I dug deep and kept myself in it to get into that playoff.”

Buhai shot a 4-over 75 in the final round, while Chun carded a 70.

Hinako Shibuno of Japan, the 2019 champion, finished one shot back in third after missing a chip from just off the green that would have made it a three-way playoff.

Chun was in trouble on the first two playoff holes, but her short game bailed her out both times.

On the first, Chun sent her second shot into a bunker while Buhai found the heart of the green. But the South Korean hit a near-perfect bunker shot to within a few feet of the hole to salvage the par.

On the second, she needed to make an 8-foot bogey putt to stay in it after sending her second shot wide and then barely making it onto the green with a chip from the tall grass.

Buhai nearly won it on the third playoff hole, but her long putt for the win pulled up a few inches away from the hole.

For Buhai, the win more than made up for a near-miss at that 2019 Women’s British Open, when she led the event at the halfway stage at Woburn but finished fifth.

“Forgive me, there will be a few tears,” Buhai said during the trophy presentation. “Obviously there’s a lot of hard work and many years of dedication going into this.”