2023 AFC Asian Cup: the full group stage review

2023 AFC Asian Cup: the full group stage review
A screen displays the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup groups after the draw for the AFC Asian Cup in Doha (AFP)
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Updated 13 May 2023

2023 AFC Asian Cup: the full group stage review

2023 AFC Asian Cup: the full group stage review
  • 10 Arab nations will be present in the delayed tournament now taking place in January next year

For the third AFC Asian Cup tournament in a row, there will be at least 10 Arab teams at the continental showpiece to be played in Qatar. Thursday afternoon’s draw ceremony held at the Katara Opera House was a much anticipated, much changed and oft delayed event.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2023 tournament will be played in 2024 — a full five years after the 2019 finals were held in the UAE.

Arab News previewed the six groups that will commence play on Jan. 12, 2024, below:

Group A: Qatar, China, Lebanon, Tajikistan

Qatar can be reasonably happy with the way the draw unfolded as challengers to their crown were kept away. In 2019, Qatar had to contend with Saudi Arabia at the group stage and this time the most established opponents are China, who have been on a downward trajectory since the last edition due to the effect of the pandemic on the Chinese Super League.

One of four all-Arab matchups will kick off the tournament as Lebanon take on the hosts at the Al-Bayt Stadium. The two sides met four years ago in Al-Ain, the Gulf nation eventually winning 2-0, but only after a first half goal from Ali Hammam was controversially ruled out. Both teams are under new management with Carlos Queiroz and Aleksandar Ilic, respectively, and are facing something of a rebuild.

China have qualified to every Asian Cup finals since 1976 and reached the final of the competition in 1984 and 2004, but have suffered a fall from grace in recent years.

Touted as the next Asian power since their first — and only — World Cup appearance in 2002, the results have failed to measure up to expectations. A new manager is also at the helm, Aleksandar Jankovic, meaning three out of the four managers in this group have yet to lead their team in a competitive fixture.

Tajikistan are the sole debutants at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and they were guided here by Croat Peter Segrt. Under his tutelage, Tajikistan’s young team have become a resolute unit that can cause problems on the break. Still, progress to the knockout stages might be a bridge too far for this group of upstarts.

Group B: Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, India

Another group that features rematches from the 2019 tournament. Australia were not at their best against Syria (a 3-2 victory) and needed penalty kicks to see off Uzbekistan in the Round of 16. Almost five years into the Graham Arnold era, Australia are battle-tested and primed for a run following an historic World Cup performance.

The question is whether Arnold will stick with his veterans or infuse youth into the team that was the oldest by average age during Qatar 2022.

Uzbekistan’s World Cup qualification hopes were extinguished early following losses to Palestine in Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia in Tashkent. From the ashes of that campaign, the team has found an identity under Srecko Katenac. The former Slovenia and Iraq manager has built his attack around Spezia striker Eldor Shomurodov. In spite of indifferent form in Serie A, Shomurodov has stepped up to meet Katenac’s challenge — wearing the captain’s armband and scoring 12 goals in his last 12 appearances with the national team. A single goal is all he needs to surpass Maxim Shatskikh as his nation’s record goalscorer.

Qatar 2023 will be Syria’s sixth appearance at an Asian Cup. In five previous appearances, the Eagles of Qasioun have never successfully managed to qualify for the knockout stage. The national team has been led by eight different managers since Ayman Al-Hakeem guided them to within a goalpost of a World Cup playoff spot in 2017. Hector Cuper, fresh off antagonizing fans in Egypt, Uzbekistan and DR Congo, will be tasked with getting a tune out of a talented side headlined by the two Omars — Khirbin and Al-Somah.

India will be stark outsiders in this group and will be heavily dependent on 39-year-old Sunil Chhetri for goal production.

Group C: Iran, UAE, Palestine, Hong Kong

This group features the losing semifinalists from the 2019 edition. UAE have not been the same since a 4-0 humiliation in Abu Dhabi at the hands of Qatar. The head of the FA has recently resigned and the current manager, Rodolfo Arrubarrenna, did not attend the draw ceremony, fueling rumors of his imminent departure.

UAE have cycled through five different managers since the last Asian Cup. Bert van Marwijk was sacked twice during that time period. There are no quick fixes for Eyal Zayed. A golden generation delivered at the Asian Cup, reaching two semifinals and losing to the eventual champion in 2015 and 2019. In the end, the big prize, a return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1990, was not achieved and now the team is in urgent need of a rebuild.

The Emirati FA opted to naturalize Caio Canedo, Fabio Lima, and Sebastian Tagliabue to add extra firepower to the attack during World Cup qualifying. All three of these players will be over the age of 30 come Qatar 2023 and with talisman Ali Mabkhout struggling for form, the future looks far from promising.

A veteran Iran team are still at the apex of their powers and will try to translate that into a first continental crown since 1976. The appointment of Amir Ghalenoei left followers of Team Melli somewhat underwhelmed but the side should be able to cruise to the knockouts with little drama, having not lost a group stage match since a 2-1 loss to Iraq in 1996.

Hong Kong returns to the fold for the first time since 1968 but with little star power and even less experience.

Palestine could be this tournament’s dark horse. The side has a 100 percent record in five competitive fixtures under Makram Dabboub, scoring 17 goals and conceding none in the process. In attack the scintillating Oday Dabbagh can wreak havoc on defenses as a provider or as a goalscorer. In tighter encounters they can rely on the services of one of Asia’s best goalkeepers, Rami Hamadi, who has racked up 20 clean sheets in just 36 appearances with Al-Fida’i.

Group D: Japan, Iraq, Vietnam, Indonesia

Iraqi fans are still in a state of euphoria following their Gulf Cup triumph in January. There seems to be an opportunity to weld together a team featuring promising locally based players with those from the diaspora under the guidance of Spaniard Jesus Casas.

The question is whether or not this represents yet another false dawn for the Lions of Mesopotamia. Since their debut in 1972, Iraq have successfully navigated the group stage of every tournament finals they have been a part of.

Success for Iraq will not be measured by simply getting out of the group, though. Iraq must find a way to prove that they can compete and beat elite nations such Japan — something they failed to do during their last World Cup qualification campaign.

While success in the Gulf Cup was a welcome sight for Iraqi fans, it was not easy, and the team needed every last strand of its home field advantage to emerge victorious against Oman in the final.

Grouped with the best team in Asia and tricky propositions in Indonesia and Vietnam, the group stage will be a litmus test of how far Iraq have come under Casas.

Group E: South Korea, Jordan, Bahrain, Malaysia

Over the last cycle, Bahrain won plaudits for being the most improved Arab team. Helio Sousa guided his side to the 2019 Gulf Cup and the 2019 West Asian Football Federation Championship. His team also famously beat Iran in World Cup qualification that year and perhaps could have gone on to achieve more had the pandemic not paused international football in Asia for 18 months.

Jordan have underachieved after winning their 2019 Asian Cup group by registering two spectacular wins against Australia and Syria. That disappointing form led the FA back to an old flame, Adnan Hamed. Neither team or tactician reached the heights individually that they did collectively. A dose of youth has been injected into the side, especially in attack, where talisman Musa Al-Taamari can now rely on the services of Qatar-based duo Yazan Al-Naimat and Ali Olwan, in addition to Esperance playmaker Sharara.

Bahrain and Jordan should cause problems for Jurgen Klinsmann’s South Korea and the German’s lack of familiarity with Asian football could be badly exposed come January.

Malaysia will take heart from the fact that they pushed Bahrain to the limits in a 2-1 loss during the qualification phase. That said, this is the Harimau Malaya’s first successful qualification since 1980 and advancing from a tough group might be a tall order.

Group F: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand

Herve Renard penned a contract extension following a famous 2-1 win over Argentina at the World Cup but had a change of heart when the opportunity to lead France at the Women’s World Cup and Paris Olympics presented itself. On paper, Saudi Arabia should be the favorites to win this group and advance deep into the tournament, but questions remain.

The team have no established number nine as a result of many Saudi Pro League teams using up their forward slots on expensive foreign talents. Goalkeeping remains a problem area as well, not aided by the fact that foreign stoppers are starting for the Kingdom’s elite clubs.

Most importantly, a new managerial appointment does not seem imminent and there is a growing feeling that interim manager Saad Al-Shehri will be given the chance to step up from the U-23s and audition for the role on a permanent basis.

Oman have been an overachieving unit throughout Branko Ivanovic’s tenure. A measure of revenge was gained against Saudi Arabia at the Gulf Cup for two narrow losses suffered at the hands of their neighbors during World Cup qualification. That Gulf Cup campaign ended in a heartbreaking extra time loss to Iraq in the final but Ivanovic has shown, both at the Gulf Cup and at the FIFA Arab Cup, his ability to prepare a team for a tournament.

Rounding out the group are teams that will need to improve before the tournament arrives. Kyrgyzstan recently parted ways with their manager of nine years, Aleksandr Krestinin, while Thailand, regarded as the best team in Southeast Asia, will need to overcome two Arab teams they have had sparse success against.

Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five

Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five
Updated 18 sec ago

Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five

Nervy Arsenal extend Premier League lead, Burnley score five
LONDON: Arsenal survived a late scare against Wolves on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League as Burnley lifted themselves off the bottom with a 5-0 trouncing of 10-man Sheffield United.
The big win for Vincent Kompany’s men briefly sent Everton to the foot of the table but Sean Dyche’s team beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the evening kick-off to edge clear.
Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, brimming with confidence after their 6-0 hammering of Lens in the Champions League in midweek, raced into a 2-0 lead at the Emirates within 13 minutes.
Bukayo Saka opened the scoring and Arsenal doubled their lead when Oleksandr Zinchenko cut the ball back for Martin Odegaard, who picked out the bottom corner as they threatened to run riot.
The home side came agonizingly close to a third goal when Gabriel Martinelli cannoned a shot off the post toward the end of the first half.
But they failed to put the game to bed and were made to sweat when Wolves forward Matheus Cunha found the top corner in the 86th minute to set up a tense finale.
Despite the wobble, Arsenal, last year’s runners-up, held on to win 2-1 and notch their 10th win in 14 league games, which moves them four points clear of champions Manchester City, who host Tottenham on Sunday.
“I can only praise the players,” said Arteta.
“They were excellent. We played against a really good side and generated so much and conceded almost nothing. The scoreline should have been very different. We were very unlucky because we hit the post three times I think.
“At the end we made an error close to the goal — in the Premier League you get punished big time for that. Then it’s game on. Overall I’m really happy with how we performed again.”
At the other end of the table, Burnley put five goals past Sheffield United at Turf Moor.
Jay Rodriguez fired the home side ahead with just 15 seconds on the clock — the fastest goal of the season so far.
Jacob Bruun Larsen extended their lead and Sheffield United’s task was made almost impossible when Oli McBurnie received a second yellow card shortly before the break.
Zeki Amdouni made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute, with Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill also finding the net as the floodgates opened.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men are now bottom — stuck on just a single win and they have now conceded five goals or more on three occasions this season.
But Burnley are just two points from safety after only their second win of the season — and Kompany said he hoped the three points would be a launch pad.
“I think the guys have deserved it,” he told the BBC. “They have performed well for a while. This league is brutal.
“I haven’t felt the nerves (from the team). I could barely contain them, they were raring to go. The frustration of last week (conceding two late goals against West Ham) didn’t turn into negativity. It turned into ‘we’ll show people’.”
Luton, just outside the drop zone, sank to a 3-1 defeat at Brentford, with Neal Maupay, Ben Mee and Shandon Baptiste on target for the Bees.
Everton, hit last month with a swingeing 10-point deduction for breaking Premier League financial rules, against which they have appealed, are above Burnley on goal difference.
Dwight McNeil broke the deadlock midway through the second half, smashing the ball into the top corner, as Everton secured a third consecutive away win.
In the late match, Newcastle face Manchester United at St. James’ Park, where a win for either side would lift them to fifth place in the table at the expense of Tottenham.

Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank

Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank
Updated 22 min 59 sec ago

Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank

Euro 2024 draw ceremony interrupted by noises in German concert hall in claimed social media prank
  • The interruption, which seemed to sound like sexual noises, was clearly heard for several minutes
  • A British prankster claimed credit on social media for the stunt

HAMBURG, Germany: The draw ceremony for the European Championship in men’s soccer was disrupted by unexplained noises that competed for attention with the team names being read out on stage on Saturday.
The interruption, which seemed to sound like sexual noises, was clearly heard for several minutes on the ceremony broadcast from a concert hall in Hamburg.
A British prankster claimed credit on social media for the stunt and posted footage of himself making cell phone calls to activate a ring tone in the venue which has excellent accoustics.
UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti noted the noise in his commentary before continuing with the draw for the last five places for lower-ranked teams in the 24-nation tournament lineup. The sound continued sporadically until the draw was completed.
Similar noises disrupted a BBC live broadcast of an English soccer game in January between Wolverhampton and Liverpool. It turned out to be a prank use of a mobile phone next to the studio.
Euro 2024 is being played in 10 Germany cities from June 14 to July 14.

Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash

Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash
Updated 02 December 2023

Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash

Pakistan Cricket Board drops ex-captain Salman Butt from selection panel after backlash
  • The PCB announced the appointment of Butt as consultant to Pakistan chief selector on Friday
  • The 39-year-old was sentenced to prison in 2011 in a spot-fixing scandal, banned for 10 years

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has dropped ex-cricketer Salman Butt from its panel of consultants for team selection, Chief Selector Wahab Riaz announced Saturday, following backlash over Butt's appointment. 

The PCB announced the appointment of Butt along with Kamran Akmal and Rao Iftikhar Anjum as consultants to Riaz on Friday, amid a reshuffle in the national side and the board’s management.  

Pakistanis took to social media and strongly criticized the PCB for the appointment of Butt, who was sent to prison in 2011 and banned from playing for 10 years for his part in a conspiracy to bowl deliberate no-balls during a 2010 Test match against England at Lord's. 

Speaking at a press conference at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, Riaz said it was his decision to appoint Butt his consultant as he understood cricket. 

"Salman Butt's name has now been withdrawn," he said, adding that there was no pressure from anyone. 

"I took the decision to make Salman Butt a consultant. Now, I am also taking the decision to remove Salman Butt." 

Butt represented Pakistan in 33 Tests, 78 ODIs and 24 T20Is. He made 5,209 runs spanning the three formats with 11 international centuries. He was in the T20 World Cup winning squad in 2009. 

His appointment came as part of a reshuffle that began amid Pakistan's poor show at the World Cup that saw the national side crashing out of the showpiece tournament even before the semi-final stage. Pakistan finished fifth in the 10-team World Cup tournament that culminated last month, with Australia lifting the trophy for a record sixth time. 

Following below-par performance of the team, Babar Azam resigned from the captaincy in all formats and Shan Masood was made test captain. Shaheen Afridi was appointed as skipper of T20 side.  

Riaz was appointed Pakistan’s chief selector last month, after Inzamam-ul-Haq stepped down in October following allegations of a conflict of interests, while former captain Mohammad Hafeez was named as team director, who will also be the head coach of the team on the twin tours of Australia and New Zealand. 

The PCB last month also appointed former international players Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal as bowling coaches for the national team. 

Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage

Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage
Updated 02 December 2023

Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage

Italy and Spain drawn together in Euro 2024 group stage
  • Much-fancied England will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia Hosts
  • Germany take on Scotland in the tournament’s opening game on June 14 in Munich

HAMBURG, Germany: Reigning champions Italy were placed in the same group as Spain in Saturday’s draw for Euro 2024, while France will come up against the Netherlands.
Much-fancied England will meet Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia, with hosts Germany taking on Scotland in the tournament’s opening game on June 14 in Munich.
Italy, who beat England on penalties at Wembley in the final of the last European Championship in 2021, and Spain will also face Croatia and Albania in Group B.
Spain, victors over Italy in the final of Euro 2012, will take on 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia in their opening match in Berlin on June 15.
The meeting of France, the 2022 World Cup runners-up, and the Netherlands will be the other heavyweight tie of the opening phase.
They were in the same section in qualifying, with France winning both encounters. The two nations are in Group D along with Austria and a play-off winner, which will be one of Poland, Wales, Finland or Estonia.
England, in contrast, will have few complaints about their opponents in Group C, although a Denmark side ranked 19th in the world were arguably the team to avoid from the second pot of seeds.
Gareth Southgate’s team, considered the favorites along with France for the tournament, will take on Serbia in their opening game in Gelsenkirchen on June 16.
Scotland, who famously lost to Brazil in the opening match of the 1998 World Cup, will again have the honor of featuring in the tournament’s curtain-raiser when they meet Germany to start in Group A.
Hungary and Switzerland complete that section, which could be one of the most evenly-matched.
Euro 2016 winners Portugal were drawn in Group F with Turkiye, the Czech Republic and a play-off winner from either Greece, Georgia, Luxembourg or Kazakhstan.
Belgium are in Group E alongside Slovakia, Romania and the winner of the other play-off path, which will be Israel, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina or Ukraine.
The month-long Euro will conclude with the final in Berlin on July 14.
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the last 16, along with the four best third-placed sides.

Medal tally reaches 369 on 9th day of Saudi Games 2023

Medal tally reaches 369 on 9th day of Saudi Games 2023
Updated 02 December 2023

Medal tally reaches 369 on 9th day of Saudi Games 2023

Medal tally reaches 369 on 9th day of Saudi Games 2023
  • Prince Fahd bin Jalawi crowns athletics champions
  • Princess Delayel crowns Al-Nassr with basketball gold

RIYADH: Two athletes from the Al-Riyadh club won two gold medals in the track and field competitions on the ninth day of the Saudi Games 2023 on Friday.
Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s vice president and the games’ director, awarded Al-Riyadh’s Hani Al-Nakhli a gold medal in the men’s paralympic discus throw and his club-mate athlete Nadha Al-Humaydani the gold medal of the paralympic shot put.
Abdulrahim Al-Sheikh, head of the Saudi Paralympic Athletics Federation, attended the medal presentation ceremony at Al-Riyadh Club. Prince Fahd bin Jalawi also attended the wrestling and goalball paralympic medal ceremonies.
Meanwhile, Al-Riyadh’s Sultan Al-Hebshi won the silver medal in the paralympic discus throw ahead of Jazan’s Haidar Salamh, who won the bronze.
Sarah Al-Jumaah from Al-Riyadh secured the silver in the women’s shot put ahead of Al-Sharqiya’s Mohrah Al-Enez, who took the bronze.
Drift champions crowned:
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, crowned the winners of the drift competition, which concluded on Friday at the Dirab Field.
Zakaria Silwan won gold, Bader Al-Shurayhi silver, and Khaled Al-Zayed bronze.
Al-Nassr crowned winners of 3x3 men’s basketball:
Princess Delayel bint Nahar Al-Saud, the Saudi Games’ deputy director, presented the gold medal to the Al-Nassr basketball team after they won the 3x3 men’s basketball competition at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex’s fan zone.
Al-Nassr defeated Al-Hilal 16-11, while Al-Safa club clinched the bronze medal after winning against Al-Salam 19-11.
Mudhar Club won the youth category’s gold medal after winning 21-12 against Al-Hilal, who took the silver, while Al-Khowildiah won the bronze.
Prince Fahd, Princess Delayel in the fan zone:
Prince Fahd and Princess Delayel attended the lively fan zone of the Saudi Games, which attracted a large gathering on Friday. Spectators enjoyed watching the Riyadh Derby, featuring Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr, on large screens amid various engaging activities.
Al-Baha win goalball gold:
Ilgar Rahimov, president of the International Blind Sports Federation, awarded the winners in goalball on Friday at the Paralympic Hall of the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex. The Al-Baha team won the gold medal after winning 9-8 against Riyadh, which took the silver. Al-Qassim Club clinched the bronze with a 7-2 victory against Al-Hasa.
Olwani wins long jump:
Al-Ittihad’s Hamoudali Olwani topped the men’s long jump competition ahead of silver-medal winner Al-Hilal’s Ahmad Marzouq. Third came Al-Ahli’s Ahmed Obaid.
In the men’s discus throw, Mohammed Tolu from Al-Hilal took the gold while Osama Al-Aqili and Abu Bakr Zakaria won the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Al-Hilal win 3000m steeplechase:
In the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase, the gold medal was awarded to Al-Hilal’s Raid Al-Jadaani, who came first ahead of Qilwah’s Ali Al-Shahrani and Al-Shabab’s Khalid Hazazi, respectively.
In the men’s 400m final, Al-Ahli’s Mazen Al-Yasen won the gold while Al-Shabab’s Yousef Masrahi and Qilwah’s Ismaeel Al-Subiani won the silver and bronze, respectively.
Malam wins gold at 100m:
Heba Malam from AlUla claimed the women’s 100-meter gold medal ahead of silver medalist Lujain Al-Humaid from Al-Safa. Yasmin Al-Dabbagh of Al-Ahli won the bronze.
In the youth category, Al-Adalah’s Lujain Hamdan came in first ahead of Noor Al-Jandan from Al-Khaleej and Bedoor Al-Herz from Al-Khaleej who came second and third.
Al-Wehda win gold in 60kg wrestling:
The Saudi Wrestling Federation’s President Fahad Al-Faraj awarded the gold medal of the 60kg Greco-Roman wrestling to Al-Wehda’s Munther Jandu. Meshal Al-Jayzani from Al-Nassr and Al-Wedha’s Rayan Hawsawi and Haitham Barahmah were presented the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Wrestling champions:
In wrestling’s 70kg category, Al-Wedha’s Ahmed Barahmah bagged the gold medal after a 5-3 victory against Turki Al-Harthi, who took the silver. Al-Raed’s Mansur Zelmukanov and Al-Wedhi’s Abdulmajeed Ahmed won the bronze.
Meanwhile, in the 80kg category, Al-Nahdah’s Mohammed Abdelaal came in first after a 6-1 win against Al-Wedha’s Hassan Barnawi. Third place went to Al-Ettifaq’s Abdullah Al-Dossary and Al-Shabab’s Hassan Al-Harthi.
Al-Hilal’s Reda El-Maghraby took the 90kg gold medal while the silver was handed to Mahmoud Hawsawi from Al-Ahli. Al-Wehda’s athletes Ammar Hawsawi and Sanad Al-Sibyani shared bronze.
In the above-90kg category, Ohod’s Mohammed El-Ghazaly clinched the gold ahead of Al-Wedha’s Ghazi bin Bakr. Al-Ahli’s Mohammed Al-Mashyakhi and Al-Wehda’s Ibrahim Fallatah shared the bronze.
Saudi Gymnastics Federation president crowns the winners:
Suleiman Al-Jasser, president of the Saudi Gymnastics Federation, presented the medals to winners of the men’s pole vault in gymnastics. Al-Ibtisam’s Jaffar Al-Sayigh clinched the gold medal while Al-Ittihad’s Abdulaziz Al-Johani and Al-Safa’s Hasan Al-Sheef won the silver and bronze.
In the men’s parallel bar, Al-Ittihad’s Nasser Al-Samiri came in first ahead of Al-Ibtisam’s Habeb Aswailah and Al-Ittihad’s Manaf Al-Amri, who ranked second and third, respectively.
In the horizontal bar, Al-Ibtisam’s Ali Al-Mobireek won the gold while Al-Ittihad’s Abdulkarim Al-Mur won silver ahead of third-placed Al-Khowildiah’s Haidar Al-Jaroudi.
Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr women qualify to futsal semifinals:
The women’s futsal semifinals feature Al-Nassr against Al-Hilal and Al-Shabab against Al-Qadisiyah on Sunday. The group stage concluded on Friday at Al-Nassr Club after Al-Suqor defeated Al-Nawras 2-0 and Al-Hilal beat Al-Qadisiyah 13-0. The United Eagles thrashed the Golden Eagles 7-4 and Al-Shabab won against Al-Nassr 2-1.
Men’s basketball:
The men’s basketball competition kicked off Saturday in the Green Hall of the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Olympic Complex. The five-day event started with Al-Hilal beating Al-Salam 85-58, while Al-Safa won against Al-Khaleej 78-64 and Al-Wehda beat Al-Khowildiah 45-36.
Men’s futsal semifinals:
Al-Nassr Club hosted the men’s futsal semifinals, in which Al-Nassr eliminated Al-Ettifaq in the penalty shootout 5-4 after tying 4-4. Al-Riyadh were scheduled to face Al-Qadisiyah.