Neymar and Al-Hilal suffer scare in Asian Champions League

Neymar and Al-Hilal suffer scare in Asian Champions League
Neymar was booked for pushing over an opponent and then angrily kicking the ball at the player as he lay on the pitch. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 September 2023
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Neymar and Al-Hilal suffer scare in Asian Champions League

Neymar and Al-Hilal suffer scare in Asian Champions League

DUBAI: Brazil star Neymar endured an Asian Champions League debut to forget as Al Hilal had to score deep into injury-time to salvage a 1-1 at home to Uzbekistan’s Navbahor in Riyadh on Monday.
Neymar, signed last month from Paris Saint-Germain for a reported EUR90 million, was making his first start for the record Asian champions having debuted on Friday as a substitute in the Saudi Pro League victory at home to Al Riyadh.
Runners-up in last year’s Champions League, Hilal were fortunate not to lose their Group B opener having gone behind on 52 minutes at King Fahd International Stadium to Toma Tabatadze’s expert finish. Navbahor, the 2022 Uzbekistan Super League runners-up, were competing in the Champions League for the first time.
However, Hilal defender Ali Al Bulaihi rescued a point for the four-time champions in the 100th minute, rising unmarked in the Navbahor area to head home Michael’s corner.
Neymar, who earlier this month became Brazil’s all-time lead goalscorer, had largely a night to forget. The forward was subjected to some particularly robust treatment from Navbahor, and was incensed just before the hour when he was trod on after being dragged to the ground.
Moments later, Neymar was booked for pushing over an opponent and then angrily kicking the ball at the player as he lay on the pitch.
Neymar did have a chance get Hilal back into the game three minutes from time, but his close-range header was straight at Navbahor goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov. Yusupov then made a spectacular save in injury-time to deny Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, although he could do nothing to prevent Al Bulaihi’s leveller.
Also in Group D, Iranian debutants Nassaji Mazandaran won 2-0 away to India’s Mumbai City.
Meanwhile, Saudi champions Al Ittihad began their quest for a third Champions League title with a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to Uzbekistan’s AGMK in Jeddah.
Ittihad, back-to-back winners in 2004 and 2005, went into the Group C opener without Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema, who was injured, but struck twice in six minutes early in the first half.
Haroune Camara, starting in Benzema’s absence, opened the scoring at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium on 10 minutes before Romarinho soon doubled the hosts’ advantage.
The Brazilian got his second of the night four minutes before half-time, as Nuno Espirito-Santo’s side eased to the three points.
In the group’s other fixture, Iraq’s Air Force Club held 2007 runners-up Sepahan, of Iran, to a 2-2 draw in Irbil.
In Group B, two-time Asian champions Al Sadd drew 0-0 at home with UAE side Sharjah — Algeria’s Baghdad Bounedjah missed a second-half penalty for the hosts — while Jordan’s Al Faisaly sunk to a 1-0 defeat in injury-time to Uzbekistan’s Nasaf in Amman.
The group stage, which this year returned to a home-and-away format for the first time since early 2020, runs until mid-December, with the 10 pool winners and the six best second-placed teams advancing to the knockout rounds. That begins in February. The final takes place, across two legs, in May.


Captain Nacho to leave Real Madrid for reported Saudi move

Captain Nacho to leave Real Madrid for reported Saudi move
Updated 25 June 2024
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Captain Nacho to leave Real Madrid for reported Saudi move

Captain Nacho to leave Real Madrid for reported Saudi move
  • The 34-year-old center-back spent 23 years with the club — 12 of them in the first team squad

Madrid: Club captain Nacho Fernandez will leave Real Madrid for a reported move to Saudi Arabia, the 15-time Champions League winners announced on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old center-back spent 23 years with the club — 12 of them in the first team squad — lifting the European crown six times, La Liga on four occasions and the Copa del Rey twice.
According to Spanish media, Nacho has signed a two-year deal with Al-Qadsiah, who were recently promoted to the Saudi top-flight.
“Since he arrived at our youth academy as a child, Nacho has been an example to everyone and has earned the affection, recognition and admiration of everyone at Real Madrid,” club president Florentino Perez said in a statement.
“Real Madrid is and always will be his home,” he added.
Nacho is set to join fellow former Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the Saudi Pro League.


Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup

Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup
Updated 13 June 2024
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Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup

Team Falcons emerge champions in Saudi qualifier for Esports World Cup
  • The Honor of Kings Invitational Midseason-Esports World Cup will take place in Riyadh from July 4 to Aug. 25

RIYADH: Team Falcons have guaranteed their spot at the $3-million Honor of Kings Invitational Midseason-Esports World Cup in Riyadh from July 4 to Aug. 25.

Team Falcons demonstrated their dominance in the Saudi Arabia qualifier, with Luban emerging as their best player.

They overcame rival Saudi Arabia esports clubs including Twisted Minds, R8 Esports, Geekay Esports, Onyx Ravens, RTG (Road to Glory), The Vicious, Dragons, and GS Team.

The tournament was broadcast live from June 9 to 11 on the official Honor of Kings Arabia channels and within the “Honor of Kings” game.

The “Honor of Kings” game has become the world’s most popular mobile multiplayer online battle arena contest. It has over 200 million registered users and more than 100 million daily players.

The free-to-play game was launched in the Middle East and North Africa in February 2024.


‘Incredibly rewarding’ — head of SAFF Women’s Football Department hails Saudi Women’s futsal team

‘Incredibly rewarding’ — head of SAFF Women’s Football Department hails Saudi Women’s futsal team
Updated 13 June 2024
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‘Incredibly rewarding’ — head of SAFF Women’s Football Department hails Saudi Women’s futsal team

‘Incredibly rewarding’ — head of SAFF Women’s Football Department hails Saudi Women’s futsal team
  • The national team secured back-to-back wins against Serbia in their training camp
  • Aalia Al-Rasheed says the victories ‘are indications that we’re on the right path’

RIYADH: The head of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation’s Women’s Football Department, Aalia Al-Rasheed, has lauded the Kingdom’s female futsal players as they near the end of their training camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the last two weeks, Saudi’s national futsal team has secured impressive back-to-back victories against Serbia in Sarajevo.

In the first match, they recorded a 3-2 thanks to goals from Al-Bandari Mubarak, Seba Tawfiq and Al-Bandari Hawsawi. This was followed by a 5-2 win, with Al-Bandari Mubarak scoring all five of Saudia Arabia’s goals.

The national team are currently ranked 51st in the FIFA Futsal Women’s World Ranking, whilst the Serbian national team are ranked 43rd.

“These wins show just how much effort and passion our team puts into every game,” said Al-Rasheed. “Winning against a strong team like Serbia really boosts (their) confidence and highlights the progress we’re making in women's futsal. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the hard work of our players and coaching staff pay off in such a significant way.”

She added: “We’ve been focusing on building a strong, cohesive team, and these victories are indications that we’re on the right path. Our goal is to keep pushing forward, learn from every match, and continue to grow. We’re determined to keep this momentum going and reach even greater heights. The support from SAFF and the dedication of our players are key to our success, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved so far.”

The friendly matches were part of the team’s training camp in Sarajevo, which started in May and continues until June 15. Overseen by head coach Mato Stankovic, it is seen as a critical part of their preparation for upcoming competitions and matches.

The players currently in Sarajevo are: Layla Ali, Leen Mohammed, Al-Bandari Mubarak, Noura Ibrahim, Atha Fahad, Abeer Nasser, Raghad Mukhayzin, Rahaf Al-Mansouri, Al-Hanouf Saud, Mohrah Al-Malhi, Nadeen Saleh, Al-Bandari Hawsawi, Raghad Saleh, Lana Abdulrazaq, Bayan Sadagah, Seba Tawfiq, Yara Alfaris, Raghad Munai, Manar Al-Onaizi, and Noura Al-Athel.


King’s Cup fixtures announced for next Saudi football season

King’s Cup fixtures announced for next Saudi football season
Updated 12 June 2024
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King’s Cup fixtures announced for next Saudi football season

King’s Cup fixtures announced for next Saudi football season
  • Al-Nassr will play Al-Hazem, Al-Ahli welcome Al-Jandal
  • Al-Ittihad at home to Al-Ain, Ettifaq will take on Al-Adalah

RIYADH: Holders Al-Hilal-will begin their defense of the King’s Cup in Qassim province against first division side Al-Bukiryah, the Saudi Football Federation announced, posting the 2024/25 fixture list for the prestigious cup competition on Wednesday.

This year’s finalist Al-Nassr will also travel to Qassim to take on Al-Hazem as Cristiano Ronaldo and company try to end a long King’s Cup drought.

Ronaldo, who broke the all-time league scoring record this season, was in tears last month as Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal lifted the trophy after winning on penalties in a dramatic game in Jeddah.

Start-studded Al-Ittihad, who were finalist this year, will have a home opener against first division side Al-Ain.

Fellow Jeddah giants Al-Ahli will invite Al-Jandal to the Red Sea city to begin their cup ambitions.  

Steven Gerrard-managed Ettifaq will take on Al-Adalah in an Eastern Province derby, in a bid to bring home the trophy to Dammam for a third time.  

Kick-off times and venues are yet to be announced.

The King’s Cup, founded in 1957, is the premier club cup competition in Saudi Arabia. Al-Ahli has won the trophy 13 times, the most of any club in the Kingdom, but Al-Hilal with victories this year and last have managed to close the gap with 11 cups.  


FULL LIST OF FIXTURES:

Ettifaq vs. Al-Adalah
Al-Qadsiah vs. Al-Orobah
Al-Okhdood vs. Al-Arabi
Al-Wehda vs. Al-Faisaly
Al-Ahli vs. Al-Jandal
Abha vs. Al-Taawoun
Al-Hazem vs. Al-Nassr
Al-Fayha vs. Al-Batin
Al-Ittihad vs. Al-Ain
Al-Tai vs. Al-Khaleej
Al-Bukiryah vs. Al-Hilal
Al-Kholood vs. Al-Shabab
Al-Jabalin vs. Al-Fateh
Jeddah vs. Al-Raed
Al-Najmah vs. Damac
Al-Safa vs. Al-Riyadh


Saudi Arabia falls to Jordan, ending 13-year World Cup qualification streak

Saudi Arabia falls to Jordan, ending 13-year World Cup qualification streak
Updated 12 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia falls to Jordan, ending 13-year World Cup qualification streak

Saudi Arabia falls to Jordan, ending 13-year World Cup qualification streak
  • Saudi Arabia 1-2 Jordan in Riyadh
  • Green Falcons join Jordan in the next round

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia suffered their first defeat in nearly 13 years in home World Cup qualifiers after losing to Jordan in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The Green Falcons finished second in Group G but still went through to the next round of qualifiers for the upcoming World and Asian cups. Jordan topped the group with 13 points, exactly the same as Saudi Arabia, but had a superior goal difference.

Persistent pressure from the home side created the chance for Ali Lajami to open the scoring for the Green Falcons in the 16th minute with a right-footed shot from the center of the box. The visitors hit back in the 27th minute after Ali Olwan’s close-range header into the bottom right corner finished a rapid counter-attack.

Noor Al-Rawabdeh’s powerful shot from outside the box before halftime was enough for Jordan to secure the victory at Al-Awwal Park. The Green Falcons' second-half pressure could not break through a determined Jordanian defense.

The Jordanians completed their revenge after losing to the Green Falcons 2-0 in the first leg in November.