Over 130 teams confirmed for Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi Cup in February   

Over 130 teams confirmed for Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi Cup in February   
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A record number of female footballers are set to compete in Abu Dhabi in February. (MCFC)
Over 130 teams confirmed for Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi Cup in February   
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Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup returns this February. (MCFC)
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Updated 23 January 2023

Over 130 teams confirmed for Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi Cup in February   

Over 130 teams confirmed for Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi Cup in February   
  • Youth skills competition to feature 1,750 players
  • Premier League Trophy, on world tour, returning to capital city

ABU DHABI: Over 130 youth teams have been confirmed for Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi Cup over the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19.

Launched in 2017 with the aim of developing young football players in the region, the tournament has grown over the years. It returns for its fourth edition, for the first time since 2019, with 1,750 players set to compete.

The tournament will be held at Zayed City Sports Stadium, the largest multi-purpose sports venue in the UAE. In addition to football action, the “City Village” will be open to the general public to experience live entertainment, and a screening of Manchester City’s Premier League away fixture against Nottingham Forest on Feb. 18.

Fans will also have the opportunity to see the Premier League trophy up close, and have photographs taken with City mascots Moonbeam and Moonchester.

The trophy has been traveling the world to various countries including the US, Mexico, South Africa, Germany and South Korea. It is part of Manchester City’s global Trophy Tour to celebrate the club’s fourth title win in five years.


Harry Kane becomes Tottenham’s all-time top scorer

Harry Kane becomes Tottenham’s all-time top scorer
Updated 05 February 2023

Harry Kane becomes Tottenham’s all-time top scorer

Harry Kane becomes Tottenham’s all-time top scorer
  • The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208)

LONDON: Harry Kane became Tottenham’s record goal scorer on Sunday when he netted his 267th goal for the club against Manchester City.
The England captain slotted home the opening goal against the Premier League champions to move past Jimmy Greaves, who scored 266 goals for Spurs between 1961 and 1970.
The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).
Kane is also level with Wayne Rooney as England’s joint record goalscorer after bagging his 53rd international goal in the World Cup quarter-final defeat against France in December.
However, despite his heroics for club and country, Kane is yet to win a major trophy in his career.
Greaves, who died aged 81 in 2021, is regarded as one of the most natural goal scorers in football history.
A member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad, who netted 44 times for his country, Greaves is the highest scorer in English top-flight history with 357 goals.


West Ham boss Moyes bullish about point against ‘tough’ Newcastle side

West Ham boss Moyes bullish about point against ‘tough’ Newcastle side
Updated 05 February 2023

West Ham boss Moyes bullish about point against ‘tough’ Newcastle side

West Ham boss Moyes bullish about point against ‘tough’ Newcastle side
  • Having taken the lead early, United allowed the visitors back into the encounter and not until the final 20
  • West Ham boss David Moyes thinks his side deserve credit for matching a United side who have lost just once in the Premier League all season

NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has admitted Newcastle United missed the influence of their Brazilian talisman Bruno Guimaraes — however, he believes any team in the Premier League would be the same.

The central midfielder served the first of a three-game suspension as the Magpies labored to a 1-1 home draw with struggling West Ham United. Guimaraes was red-carded in the Carabao Cup semifinal second-leg win over Southampton at St. James’ Park in midweek.

Callum Wilson netted for the Magpies in the third minute before Lucas Paqueta, a reported transfer target for Howe last summer, ensured honors remained even.

And when asked whether the Champions League-chasing Magpies missed Guimaraes, Howe said: “Undoubtedly, he’s that difference-maker with an eye for a pass. He has creative flair we possibly missed today.

“I think we’re always going to miss Bruno because he’s so unique and slightly different. But I do think our midfield players today played well. I don’t think it’s a criticism of them, he’s irreplaceable. We missed his creative eye probably more than anything else.

“It was a great start for us but we just didn’t build on that great start and that’s the disappointing thing, I thought we allowed West Ham into the game and probably got punished for that.”

Having taken the lead early, United allowed the visitors back into the encounter and not until the final 20, after the introduction of new boy Anthony Gordon, did the Magpies really look like mounting a challenge for all three points.

On the impact of former Everton man Gordon, Howe said: “Yeah, very pleased. Your first action here at St. James’ Park is important. His first pass was a brilliant one, he injected some life into us in a time where we needed it in the game. Disappointed for him that we couldn’t get him in the box and see what he can do closer to goal but he did really well when he came on.”

West Ham boss David Moyes thinks his side deserve credit for matching a United side who have lost just once in the Premier League all season.

“It’s a great point for us. We played well today. I’m really pleased for the players,” said the Hammers’ boss.

“We could have buckled. This place at the moment, it’s right on top of you. But we played well today and deserved to get back in the game. There are lots of pluses for us.

“There was a period where we had two or three opportunities or moments where we could have got the second goal, but I was pleased with how we controlled the game at different times. Newcastle are playing very well at the moment, but we did today as well.

“We deserve some credit because we’ve not been playing so well. They’re a big, big side. They can put the ball on top of you when they don’t go round you. Nayef (Aguerd) had a brilliant tackle. Part of your job is to defend well and we did defend well today.

“It keeps a little bit of a run going for us. A draw at Newcastle isn’t the worst result. We’d have liked to win but we’re up against a team who are in good form at the moment. I think our performance merited something from the game. If we play like that next week (against Chelsea) we’ll give ourselves a chance.”


Al-Ahly’s late goal ends Seattle debut 1-0 in Club World Cup

Al-Ahly’s late goal ends Seattle debut 1-0 in Club World Cup
Updated 04 February 2023

Al-Ahly’s late goal ends Seattle debut 1-0 in Club World Cup

Al-Ahly’s late goal ends Seattle debut 1-0 in Club World Cup
  • Afsha scored after coming on as a substitute in the 63rd
  • He lifted Al-Ahly into the semifinals for the third straight year

TANGIER, Morocco: Mohammed Afsha scored on a deflected shot in the 88th minute and sent Al-Ahly into the Club World Cup semifinals by beating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Saturday.
Afsha scored after coming on as a substitute in the 63rd. He lifted Al-Ahly into the semifinals for the third straight year, and brought an abrupt end to the first appearance by a team from the United States in the competition.
His initial shot from outside the penalty area hit the crossbar. Seattle were unable to clear the danger and Afsha’s second attempt deflected off defender Alex Roldan and bounded past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
It was the only shot on target by the Egyptian club as both sides played a heavily defensive game where chances at goal were limited.
Al-Ahly will face Real Madrid in the semifinals next Wednesday in Rabat. Al-Ahly have not lost a match in any competition since Aug. 27 in the Egyptian Premier League.
Al-Ahly have finished third in each of the past two Club World Cups but have never made the final.
Seattle were the first club from Major League Soccer to take part in the Club World Cup after winning the CONCACAF Champions League last May. The Sounders carried hopes of advancing through their first match and playing at least three matches at the event.
But while Seattle were excellent defensively, they lacked quality chances on attack. Seattle finished with just one shot on goal, a speculative attempt from defensive midfielder Josh Atencio early in the second half.
“I thought we were good. I thought we were evenly matched. A couple of chances. But the deflection on the goal, it’s unfortunate,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.
Seattle were playing their first competitive match in 3 ½ months while the rest of MLS was going through preseason preparations. The Sounders’ previous match was last October and the team gathered for MLS preseason camp in early January.
“They put everything into the game. They put everything into preseason,” Schmetzer said.


Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form

Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form
Updated 04 February 2023

Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form

Klopp at a loss to explain ‘unacceptable’ Liverpool form
  • The Reds have taken just one point from their last four Premier League games to all
  • "Conceding early goals is not unfamiliar to us but the way we conceded them today was not acceptable," said Klopp

WOLVERHAMPTON, United Kingdom: Jurgen Klopp branded the goals Liverpool conceded in a 3-0 defeat to Wolves as “horrible” with the German admitting to being at a loss to explain his side’s disastrous form.
The Reds have taken just one point from their last four Premier League games to all but end any hope of catching the top four for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Klopp’s men trailed 2-0 inside 12 minutes at Molineux as Joel Matip’s own goal and Craig Dawson’s strike on his debut put Wolves on course to climb out of the relegation zone.
Ruben Neves added a third 19 minutes from time after Liverpool had dominated the early stages of the second half without reward.
“Conceding early goals is not unfamiliar to us but the way we conceded them today was not acceptable,” said Klopp.
“When you see the whole game, throughout the game in moments we played an outstanding game without scoring and a good away game without scoring.
“The third goal I don’t count because it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half. The other two goals, going into a game with all the things we said during the week and before the game, then this is the start, is horrible.”
Already out of both domestic cups, Liverpool sit 10th in the Premier League.
The Champions League appears to be their last chance of salvaging their season with a last 16 tie against Real Madrid to come later this month in a repeat of last season’s final.
Klopp’s side came close to winning an unprecedented quadruple of trophies last season.
But he appears incapable of stopping the rot as for the third consecutive away league game, Liverpool conceded three times.
“We better change it. That’s true, 100 percent. I have no words for it really, I’m sorry,” he added.
“You do yourself no favors in these moments, giving easy balls away.
“We were passive in the (first) two goals, everything we wanted to do was be compact and active but we were compact and passive. I can’t explain it. I think why would you do that? But they did it anyway.”


Al-Hilal beat Wydad to reach FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals

Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better
Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better
Updated 04 February 2023

Al-Hilal beat Wydad to reach FIFA Club World Cup semi-finals

Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better
  • The 5-3 penalty shootout win after 1-1 draw means the Saudi giants will now face Brazil’s Flamengo on Tuesday

RABAT: The drums rang loud for Morocco's Wydad AC on a sunny and dramatic Saturday afternoon in Rabat at the FIFA Club World Cup, but they were ultimately silenced by Al-Hilal’s Musab Al-Juwayr.

The teenage midfielder scored the final kick to win a  penalty shootout 5-3 for the Saudi Arabian giants after the game had ended 1-1. The Asian champions go through at the expense of their African counterparts to the  semi-finals and a clash with Brazil’s Flamengo. It should be quite a match if this was anything to go by.

Two hours of action packed football ended 1-1 but there was much more to it than that. A header early in the second half from Wydad's Ayoub Emloud had fans in the North African country as excited as they were during the 2022 World Cup, when Morocco reached the semi-final and became the toast of Qatar.

Saudi Arabia's World Cup may not have been quite as exciting but the club tournament is going to be much better.

One of the few times the home crowd were silenced came in added time as Yahya Jabrane, captain of the African champions, was sent off for protesting at a penalty. Mohamed Kanno fired home the resultant spot kick to send the game into extra-time during which he was also dismissed by the referee.

It was then penalties and Al-Hilal scored all theirs, while Wydad missed one.

For a long time however, it look as if the 18-time Saudi champions were going home in a clash that kept the 45,000 capacity crowd at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium entertained. The arena may be in Rabat but it certainly felt and, more importantly, sounded like a home match in Casablanca for the Moroccan powerhouse. The red wall behind the goals rarely stopped bouncing and singing to roar the team in white forward.

It seemed to work as Wydad started brightly in the opening exchanges and looked dangerous especially from set pieces with Yahya Jabrane firing over from a free-kick. 

Indeed, the pressure seemed to have paid off after 19 minutes when they thought they had taken the lead as Jalal Daoudi swept the ball home from close range. The veteran midfielder was, however, correctly adjudged to have been offside from the assistant referee.

Al-Hilal’s first real attempt on goal came after 23 minutes but Nasser Al-Dawsari sent a free-kick from a dangerous position well over the bar.

As the half progressed, Al-Hilal got into the game more though the home team continued to have better chances such as the attempt on the stroke of half-time. Wydad’s new Cameroonian forward Didier Lamkel Ze sent over a fine cross from the left but Ayoub El-Amloud was unable to get enough on it and the defender’s glancing header went wide.

Al-Hilal came close right after the restart. A Salem Al-Dawsari corner from the right fell to Ali Al-Buhali and his snap shot from close range was cleared off the line by Lamkel Ze.

In the 51st minute, Wydad’s eighth corner kick made the difference as El-Amloud rose at the far post to send a powerful header past Abdullah Al-Mayouf.

The Asian champions sprung into action but struggled to turn pressure into chances, though they came close with 20 minutes remaining when Odion Ighalo’s shot from close range was well-saved by Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti and Salem Al-Dawsari’s follow-up was blocked on the line by Amine Farhane.

Al-Hilal, who have never progressed past the semi-finals at this tournament, pushed forward in search of an equaliser and the chance came at the end of normal time as they were awarded a penalty thanks to a handball in the area. Wydad’s captain Jabrane was booked twice in quick succession and was sent off.

Amid the furore, Kanno kept his cool to slot the ball straight down the middle and suddenly the impetus had swung in favor of the Asian champions and Luciano Vietto almost won the game in the eighth minute of injury time as the Argentine’s free-kick was pushed away by the goalkeeper. 

The Riyadh giants could not get the winner before extra-time and when the game restarted they were soon reduced to 10 men themselves as Kanno was given a second yellow card for a foul.

And then it was five penalties each. After Moussa Marega scored the opener for Al-Hilal, Yahia Attiyat Allah’s shot hit both posts but did not go in and Wydad were in trouble. Vietto,  Saleh Al-Shehri and then Abdullah Al-Hamdan scored for the Riyadh club to leave substitute Al-Jawary to deliver the glory and a ticket to the last four.