Saudi beat Comoros 2-0 to take lead in Women’s International Friendly Tournament

Saudi Arabia have beaten Comoros 2-0 in the second match of the Women’s International Friendly Tournament in Al-Khobar to take the lead in the four-nation competition
Action from Saudi's 2-0 win over Comoros at the Women’s International Friendly Tournament (Twitter/@saff_wfd)
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Updated 16 January 2023

Saudi beat Comoros 2-0 to take lead in Women’s International Friendly Tournament

Saudi Arabia have beaten Comoros 2-0 in the second match of the Women’s International Friendly Tournament in Al-Khobar to take t

Saudi Arabia have beaten Comoros 2-0 in the second match of the Women’s International Friendly Tournament in Al-Khobar to take the lead in the four-nation competition.

The win at Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium means that after two rounds of matches, the Green Flacons lead the standings with six points, with Mauritius in second place on three points ahead of third-place Pakistan on goal difference. Comoros remain pointless after two defeats.

Saudi’s goals came from Noura Ibrahim on 34 minutes and Dalia Adel in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the match.

In Sunday’s other match, Mauritius beat Pakistan 2-1 thanks to goals by Jheemal Chiara after four minutes and Gopaul Julie Marie on 64 minutes. Pakistan had equalized on nine minutes through Maria Jamila Khan.

The first round of matches saw Saudi Arabia beat Mauritius 1-0 with a goal from Miriam Al-Tamimi, while Pakistan beat Comoros with the same scoreline through a strike by Anmol Hira.


Qatar hires coach Carlos Queiroz through the 2026 World Cup

Qatar hires coach Carlos Queiroz through the 2026 World Cup
Updated 6 sec ago

Qatar hires coach Carlos Queiroz through the 2026 World Cup

Qatar hires coach Carlos Queiroz through the 2026 World Cup
DOHA: Former Portugal and Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has worked at the last four World Cups and was hired on Monday by Qatar to aim for a fifth straight at the next edition hosted in North America.
The Qatar Football Association hired former Real Madrid coach Queiroz until 2026 to take charge of his seventh different national team.
As host of the 2022 World Cup, Qatar lost all three group-stage games on its tournament debut in November. This time it will try to advance through the qualifying program for the first time.
The 2026 edition in the United States, Canada and Mexico is the first 48-team finals tournament and Asia will have eight guaranteed qualifying places instead of the previous four.
Queiroz coached Iran at a third straight World Cup together since 2014 and again failed to advance to the round of 16. His team lost to England and the United States, though beat Wales, to place third in their group.
Queiroz, who turns 70 on March 1, coached his native Portugal at the 2010 World Cup and lost in the round of 16 to eventual winner Spain.
Qatar under Queiroz has two continental championships to play in the next year, first with an invitation to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June. Qatar also hosts the Asian Cup in January.

Returning Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy has a cut at Saudi glory

Returning Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy has a cut at Saudi glory
Updated 06 February 2023

Returning Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy has a cut at Saudi glory

Returning Champion Jockey Oisin Murphy has a cut at Saudi glory
  • Former UK champion booked for Neom Turf Cup contender on glittering race day
  • Missed The Cut’s trainer George Boughey: I wanted someone to create a bond with the horse

Oisin Murphy will have his first big-race rides since returning from a 14-month ban at the Saudi Cup meeting.

The three-time British Champion Jockey has been booked to ride Missed The Cut in the $1.5 million G3 Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi at the world’s most valuable racing fixture.

The two-day festival – featuring the $20 million Saudi Cup – kicks off on Friday, Feb. 24, just eight days after Murphy is allowed to return to racing following his lengthy ban. The 2100m Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi and the Saudi Cup take place the following day.

Missed The Cut’s trainer, Newmarket-based George Boughey, was quick to snap up the services of the Classic-winning jockey.

He said: “Oisin has only ridden one winner for me, but he’s obviously a fantastic rider and I’m delighted to have him on board.

“I wanted someone to create a bond with the horse. He’s done plenty of work on him. He went to Chelmsford to ride him the other morning and he’s delighted with him, so it’s all systems go.”

Missed The Cut did not make his debut until April last year. He quickly completed a hat-trick of wins when landing the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot before ending the year with victory in the Listed Churchill Stakes on the All-Weather at Lingfield.

The form of that most recent run in November is starting to look very good, with runner-up Algiers going on to win two Group 2 races in Dubai by wide margins.

Boughey added: “He’s been in great shape and seeing his form get franked on the world stage just confirmed what he’s been showing us for a while. We’re very excited to see him out in Saudi in a few weeks.

“He’s a horse that was sold out of Shadwell dispersal sale. He was just a standout physically from the get-go. He’s still a big baby. He’s only run six times. We’re taking on much more experienced horses, but his work is improving at a rate of knots. He is the horse that could take us to the next level.”

Missed The Cut, who is likely to head off to America after his run at the Saudi Cup meeting, will be joined by Sir Busker in the $1.5 million Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi.

His owners are dreaming of a fairy-tale win at the world’s most valuable meeting at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh.

The 7-year-old is owned by the 16-strong Kennett Valley Thoroughbreds syndicate and is trained by Newmarket-based William Knight.

Sir Busker has progressed from handicaps to Group company, and hopes are high he can give his enthusiastic owners another memorable payday under big-race jockey Ryan Moore.

Knight said: “He’s come up through the ranks. We always liked him as a 2-year-old, and he’s improved as he’s gotten older.

“To think five years ago I’d be sitting here now talking about going out to Saudi with him — it’s things you dream of. He’s been a star for us.

“He’s owned by a lovely group of people. They’re very passionate owners. When you stand in the paddock before these big races with the owners, who all have 1/16th, it’s great.

“They realize how lucky they are. They realize he’s the horse of a lifetime. He’s given everyone so much enjoyment.”

Sir Busker had the option of running in the G1 $20 million Saudi Cup — the world’s most valuable race — but Knight is happy they have decided to go for the Neom Turf Cup presented by Altanfeethi.

He added: “We’ve talked long and hard about this. I promise you it’s changed daily as to which race we’re going to go for. It’s such an amazing opportunity to run for that sort of money in the Saudi Cup.

“Looking at the entries for both races, I think we have a better chance of being in the first three in the Neom Turf Cup. The extra distance will really suit him, and we know he goes really well on turf.”


Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time

Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time
Updated 06 February 2023

Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time

Djibouti’s Hassan wins Beppu Oita Marathon in record time
  • Ibrahim Hassan set a new record for the Beppu Oita Mainichi Marathon with a time of 2:06:43
  • Shungo Yokota came in fourth in 2:07:47, setting a record for a Japanese student runner

TOKYO: Ibrahim Hassan of Djibouti won the 71st Beppu Oita Mainichi Marathon for the first time on Sunday with a new record of 2:06:43.

Kenya’s Daniel Kipchumba crossed the finish line five seconds later for second place, and Japan’s Tsubasa Ichiyama placed third in 2:07:44.

When the pacemaker came off at 30km, Hassan and Kipchumba jumped out and Hassan took the lead after 35km.

“With the win and course record, I’m very, very happy,” the 26-year-old Hassan said. “The course was very good.”

Aoyama Gakuin University’s Shungo Yokota came in fourth in 2:07:47, setting a record for a Japanese student runner.

This year, the right to participate in the “Marathon Grand Championship (MGC)”, the qualifying event for the 2024 Paris Olympics, was at stake.


Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown

Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown
Updated 06 February 2023

Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown

Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly eye unlikely FIFA Club World Cup Final showdown
  • Saudi and Asian champions Al-Hilal take on Brazil’s Flamengo, Cairo giants Al-Ahly face mighty Real Madrid in semifinals
  • Al-Hilal and Flamengo met at the same stage in 2019, with the South Americans winning 3-1

It was less than three months ago when Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari scored spectacular goals to defeat Argentina and set the 2022 World Cup on fire.

There is now another massive South American test for the pair as Al-Hilal take on Brazilian giants Flamengo in the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup in Tangier on Tuesday. The prize of a final against mighty Real Madrid or Arab rivals Al-Ahly awaits.

The Saudi Arabian and Asian champions are still recovering from an epic showdown with local heroes Wydad AC on Saturday.

Not only did the Riyadh giants have to come back from a goal down against the African champions — and complete 120 minutes of a tough encounter — but they also had to deal with 50,000 intimidating fans.

Al-Hilal came through in the end thanks to a late equalizer from Mohamed Kanno and then a tense penalty shootout.

Al-Hilal and Flamengo met at the same stage in 2019, with the South Americans winning 3-1. Al-Hilal took the lead thanks to an Al-Dawsari goal after just 18 minutes. Flamengo equalized and then, with 12 minutes remaining, Bruno Henrique — not the player who now turns out for Al-Ittihad — put the Rio de Janeiro club ahead. A late own-goal from Ali Al-Bulaihi sealed Hilal’s fate.

Both Al-Bulaihi and Al-Dawsari should play this time too, with Jang Hyun-soo another survivor from that game.

Jang said: “Facing a Brazilian team such as Flamengo in the semifinals will be difficult.

“We previously faced them in the same tournament. We lost at that time but we always aim to win every game we play, and this is no different.

“We will give everything we have to reach the final and then to be champions.”

Absences make the task harder. Midfielder Kanno, sent off for two bookable offenses on Saturday, is out, while Peruvian winger Andre Carrillo is doubtful.

Given that a quartet of Saudi Arabian internationals — captain Salman Al-Faraj, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohammed Al-Breik and Abdulellah Al-Malki — did not even make the journey from Riyadh, then coach Ramon Diaz has a lot to think about.

With one South American triumph in the last 15 tournaments, Flamengo, led by former Al-Ahli coach Vitor Pereira, would love to take the trophy back home.

They are in decent form back in Brazil, they do not have the injury problems of their Saudi opponents, but have had a lengthy journey.

If Al-Hilal do manage to win, it would put them in a major final, and their fans in dreamland. It would be another major achievement for Arab football; it is hard to imagine what an Al-Hilal and Al-Ahly final would mean to the region.

But first the Egyptians have the matter of a semifinal against Real Madrid, arguably the biggest club in the world.

The Spaniards not only won the European title for a record-extending 14th time last year, but they are also the most successful team in this tournament, with four championships.

For Al-Hilal to beat Flamengo would be seen as a surprise, but Al-Ahly triumphing would be an even bigger shock.

But the Cairo giants are in good form. Ten wins and five draws from the first 15 games of the Egyptian Premier League season have steered them well clear at the top of the standings, and they have already progressed past Auckland City and Seattle Sounders in this tournament, by 3-0 and 1-0 respectively. 

Real Madrid, with stars such as Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, are hot favorites, although they trail rivals Barcelona in Spain by eight points following defeat at the weekend.

Al-Ahly’s Swiss coach Marcel Koller said: “It is a great achievement to set up a date with Real Madrid in the semifinals.

“We will prepare both theoretically and technically for the game and we know it will be a big challenge.”

The Red Giants have faced European champions once before, losing 2-0 to Bayern Munich in 2020 on their way to third place — the same position they finished last year after defeating Al-Hilal in the third and fourth-place play-off.

It is possible that these two giants of Arabian football will meet at the same stage again this weekend — but there is also still time to dream that it will be in the final.


Former Newcastle United winger Atsu missing after Turkiye earthquake

 Newcastle United’s former midfielder Christian Atsu celebrates after scoring a goal. (File/AFP)
Newcastle United’s former midfielder Christian Atsu celebrates after scoring a goal. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 February 2023

Former Newcastle United winger Atsu missing after Turkiye earthquake

 Newcastle United’s former midfielder Christian Atsu celebrates after scoring a goal. (File/AFP)
  • “Praying for some positive news,” Atsu’s former club Newcastle said in a social media post
  • Huge earthquake has killed more than 2,200 people and injured thousands more on Monday

ACCRA: Ghana international winger Christian Atsu is among those missing after the collapse of an apartment building in Hatay, Turkiye, following Monday’s huge earthquake.
He scored a 97th minute winner for Turkish top-flight side Hatayspor on Sunday night as they beat Kasımpasa 1-0, but just hours later was reported missing following the 7.8 magnitude quake that brought down whole apartment blocks in several Turkish and Syrian cities.
Hatayspor vice president Mustafa Ozat told Turkish TV station Play Spor: “Christian Atsu and (club sporting director) Taner Savut are still under the rubble.”
He told BeIN Sports several players and officials had been rescued and the club was working to help others.
Atsu, 31, played in the Premier League for Newcastle United and Everton, on loan from Chelsea, but joined Hatayspor in September.
Newcastle United, who Atsu helped to promotion from the Championship in the 2016/17, tweeted they were “praying for some positive news.” Chelsea also tweeted their prayers.
“We pray for Ghana International Christian Atsu and victims of the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria,” the Ghana Football Association tweeted. “We remain hopeful for positive news.”
Atsu was last selected to play for Ghana in 2019, but has not officially retired from international football.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the survivors, and we pray that our fellow Ghanaian, Christian Atsu, is found safe and sound,” Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo tweeted.