Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home

Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home
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The Saudi women's team will meet Bhutan opponents again after earlier draw. (Supplied)
Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home
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The Saudi women's team will meet Bhutan opponents again after earlier draw. (Supplied)
Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home
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The Saudi women's team will meet Bhutan opponents again after earlier draw. (Supplied)
Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home
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The Saudi women's team will meet Bhutan opponents again after earlier draw. (Supplied)
Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home
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The Saudi women's team will meet Bhutan opponents again after earlier draw. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 September 2022

Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home

Saudi women’s team draw 3-3 with Bhutan in first ever international at home
  • The side led by German coach Monika Staab previously played only Seychelles and Maldives abroad

The Saudi women’s national football team made history on Saturday night at Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium with a 3-3 draw against Bhutan in their first ever international played on home soil.

The team, led by German coach Monika Staab, had previously played only two internationals, against the Seychelles and Maldives in February.

Bhutan took the lead in the fifth minute through Bima Shoden, before Bayan Sadaka equalized with a powerful shot from outside the penalty area 10 minutes later.

The visitors retook the lead through Dickie Yangdon on 40 minutes and extended their advantage only two minutes later with a goal from Sonam Shoden to leave the Falcons trailing 3-1 at the break.

However, Staab’s team produced an inspired second half performance with Al-Bandari Mubarak reducing the deficit in the 75th minute, before Noura Al-Ibrahim managed a 90th minute leveler.

The Saudi team will meet the same opponents again on Wednesday at Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium in the Asir region.


Ronaldo benched for Portugal’s last 16 tie with Switzerland

Ronaldo benched for Portugal’s last 16 tie with Switzerland
Updated 5 sec ago

Ronaldo benched for Portugal’s last 16 tie with Switzerland

Ronaldo benched for Portugal’s last 16 tie with Switzerland
DOHA: Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of Portugal’s starting line-up for their World Cup last 16 clash against Switzerland on Tuesday, with Goncalo Ramos selected up front at his expense.
Ronaldo, 37, is the only man to score at five World Cups, but he angered Portugal coach Fernando Santos with his reaction to being substituted in the last group game.
Bruno Fernandes and Joao Felix return for Portugal after they were rested in the 2-1 loss to South Korea, as does Bernardo Silva who made a brief appearance off the bench in that game.
Joao Cancelo drops out, with Diogo Dalot keeping his spot at right-back and Raphael Guerreiro restored at left-back.
Otavio starts in midfield after recovering from an injury in Portugal’s opening match.
Switzerland welcome back goalkeeper Yann Sommer from illness and Fabian Schaer retains his place in defense having filled in for Nico Elvedi in the 3-2 win over Serbia.
Edmilson Fernandes comes in for the absent Silvan Widmer at right-back.

Newcastle in Riyadh: Howe reveals Isak injury caution

Newcastle in Riyadh: Howe reveals Isak injury caution
Updated 1 min 15 sec ago

Newcastle in Riyadh: Howe reveals Isak injury caution

Newcastle in Riyadh: Howe reveals Isak injury caution
  • $70m Swedish forward will miss Thursday’s friendly against Al-Hilal, remains doubt for Premier League return
  • While the January transfer window is not expected to be a transformative one for United, Isak’s return will very much feel like a cliched new signing

RIYADH: Newcastle United’s record signing Alexander Isak is a major doubt for the club’s return to English Premier League action with head coach Eddie Howe confirming that the $70m Swede will not feature in Thursday’s Diriyah Season Cup clash with Al-Hilal.

Since arriving at St. James’ Park in a summer deal, 23-year-old Isak has played just three games, the last of which came in September. He scored two goals in that trio of Premier League encounters, one of which came against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

And while it had been hoped the former Real Sociedad striker would feature on Thursday evening, those hopes have been dashed by Howe, who claims the player is facing a race against time to be fit for the visit to Leicester City on Dec. 26.

The Newcastle boss does, however, insist there has been no setback to Isak’s return-to-fitness plan.

Howe said: “He’s doing well. This was the plan. We didn’t expect him to train with the group when we first started training so he’s with the sports scientist team and physios.

“We are building him up in a controlled way and we expect him to be very close for Bournemouth or Leicester, we’re not sure if he’ll be fit or available for those games yet.”

On whether Isak would play against the Saudi Pro League champions this week, Howe added: “No, it’s a bit too early. I don’t expect him to feature in those games (against Al Hilal and a friendly against Rayo Vallecano on Dec. 17). We’ll try and get him back for Bournemouth or Leicester, but we’ll have to see how it goes.

“There’s been no setback. There was an initial setback when he re-injured his thigh and as a consequence of that we just want to make sure we get him fully fit.”

While the January transfer window is not expected to be a transformative one for United, Isak’s return will very much feel like a cliched new signing.

Howe said: “Very much so. He’s a player we’ve really liked and missed, and he’ll give us lots of qualities we feel the team needs. We’re really excited to try and get him back.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle United’s players were guests of honor at the Riyadh residence of Saudi Public Investment Fund head and Magpies’ non-executive chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

The 28-man playing squad, along with co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi, as well as Howe’s coaching staff were invited for an evening meal with Al-Rumayyan and his family on Monday evening, 24 hours after their arrival in the Kingdom.

After the event, PCP Capital Partners’ Ghodoussi took to social media to post an image of the squad together, united, and said: “A great evening with great people (followed by a red heart emoji) #nufc #NUFCinRiyadh.”

The players trained at Al-Hilal’s training complex on Tuesday morning, with Isak confined to the gym as part of his recovery.

The only absentees from the playing squad are the Magpies’ World Cup representatives Bruno Guimaraes, Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson, Nick Pope, and Fabian Schar, while Dan Burn, absent from the original Saudia flight on Sunday, joined up with the squad on Tuesday following his recovery from an illness.

On his players’ return to Saudi Arabia, Howe added: “The first thing we did was to test the players and find out where they were physically compared to the tests we did during pre-season, and from those tests the players were in a good place, which you probably expect as it’s only been two weeks and a couple of days rest but you can still lose a bit of fitness even in that short space on time.

“Because it’s such a short window, the minute we start working, the players will quickly get back to the levels of a very good physical condition.”


Morocco beat Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarterfinals

Morocco beat Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarterfinals
Updated 25 min 18 sec ago

Morocco beat Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarterfinals

Morocco beat Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarterfinals

DOHA: Morocco advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time, beating Spain 3-0 in a penalty shootout on Tuesday.
Pablo Sarabia, Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets missed their penalties for Spain, with Sarabia hitting the post and Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou stopping the other two.
The teams drew 0-0 in regulation and extra time.
Morocco have been the biggest surprise of the tournament and will next face either Portugal or Switzerland.
Morocco are the only team from outside Europe or South America to make it to the last eight. They are the only Arab — and African — nation left in the tournament.


Eto’o sorry for fan ‘altercation’ but slams Algeria ‘provocation’

Eto’o sorry for fan ‘altercation’ but slams Algeria ‘provocation’
Updated 06 December 2022

Eto’o sorry for fan ‘altercation’ but slams Algeria ‘provocation’

Eto’o sorry for fan ‘altercation’ but slams Algeria ‘provocation’
  • Eto'o released a statement in which he admitted being involved in a "violent altercation"
  • He only addressed his apology to "the public" however and made no gesture to the fan

DOHA: Former Cameroon star Samuel Eto’o apologized Tuesday for kneeing an Algeria supporter in the face but insisted he was the target of “relentless provocation” by the North African state’s supporters since a controversial World Cup qualifier this year.
The 41-year-old Cameroon federation president and ambassador for the Qatar World Cup flew into a rage after being approached as he left Brazil’s 4-1 win over South Korea in Doha on Monday night.
A video widely shown on social media showed the four-time African player of the year breaking free from people seeking to restrain him and kneeing the face of a blogger named as Sadouni SM.
The man fell back after being struck but has not reported any serious injury.
Eto’o released a statement in which he admitted being involved in a “violent altercation.”
“I would like to apologize for losing my temper and reacting in a way that does not match my personality,” said the former Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker.
Eto’o only addressed his apology to “the public” however and made no gesture to the fan.
Eto’o lashed out at Algeria’s supporters for their behavior since Cameroon beat Algeria on away goals in a World Cup qualifying playoff in March.
Algeria later complained to FIFA about the referee and initially demanded a replay.
“I pledge to continue to resist the relentless provocation and daily harassment of some Algerian supporters,” Eto’o said.
“I have been the target of insults and allegations of cheating without any evidence,” he added.
He said Cameroon fans at the World Cup had also been “harassed and pestered” by Algerians.
“The scenario of Algeria’s defeat was cruel but perfectly in line with the rules and ethics of our sport,” Eto’o insisted.
All of Algeria’s appeals have been rejected and Eto’s said that Algerian authorities must now act to halt “this unhealthy climate before a more serious tragedy occurs.”
The African football legend was surrounded as soon as he left the 974 Stadium where the round of 16 match was played.
Wearing a blue baseball cap, he is seen allowing selfies with some fans before he was approached by the Algerian.
Eto’o handed his mobile phone to a man before surging at the blogger to deliver the blow with his knee.
Sadouni SM said in a video posted online Tuesday that his camera and microphone had been “smashed” in the incident.
“He hit me,” the man adds, pointing to his chin.
“I did all that for Algeria,” Sadouni SM says in the video.
“I am at the police station now for the inquiry.
“This video must be shared. As Eto’o is a celebrity I am afraid they will cover up the inquiry, but I trust the Qatari police,” he added.
Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee has not commented on the incident. Eto’o toured Senegal, Cameroon and Ghana in August to promote the World Cup.
The former international has a history of fiery outbursts, receiving a three-match ban in 2010 for headbutting an opponent while playing for Inter.


Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi seals 2nd FIA World Cup win at Dubai Baja

Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi seals 2nd FIA World Cup win at Dubai Baja
Updated 06 December 2022

Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi seals 2nd FIA World Cup win at Dubai Baja

Saudi’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi seals 2nd FIA World Cup win at Dubai Baja
  • A season that started with podium at Dakar Rally ends with victory over closest challenger Miroslav Zapletal
  • The Saudi champion thanked co-drivers Michael Orr and Dirk von Zitziwitz for their outstanding work

DUBAI: Saudi rally driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi has been crowned champion of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas Drivers’ Championship for the second time in his career at the two-day Dubai International Baja.

Al-Rajhi managed to overcome Czech driver Miroslav Zapletal, who was his closest challenger throughout the season, with the gap between the two only 10 points before the start of the Dubai Baja.

“I dedicate my second historical victory of the World Cup title to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Al-Rajhi.

“I also thank HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal and HRH Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal for their continuous support, and I thank the great Saudi people and my fans from all over the world. I am very proud to be the first Saudi to win this world title twice in the history of the World Cup for Cross Country Bajas.”

The Saudi champion produced a season of landmarks, the first of which was winning a historical podium at the Dakar Rally in Saudi in the W2RC Championship. He accomplished that alongside Irish navigator Michael Orr onboard the Toyota Hilux, before heading out on the journey to defend the world title in the World Cup for Cross-Country Rally Championships, which is supervised by the International Automobile Federation.

In the course of eight rounds between Europe and the Middle East, Al-Rajhi’s defense of his world title began in the freezing conditions of the Russian Baja and ended in Dubai’s hot desert climate.

Al-Rajhi and his co-drivers faced several challenges throughout the season, and the Saudi champion thanked Michael Orr and Dirk von Zitziwitz for their outstanding work, as well as his official partner Abdul Latif Jameel — the distributor of Toyota Motor Corporation products in Saudi Arabia — for their unlimited support at the international and regional rallies.