Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad triumph in volleyball clashes at Saudi Games

Al-Hilal defeated Abha by three sets to one, before Al-Ittihad beat Al-Khaleej by a similar result. (Supplied)
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Al-Hilal defeated Abha by three sets to one, before Al-Ittihad beat Al-Khaleej by a similar result. (Supplied)
Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad triumph in volleyball clashes at Saudi Games
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In the women’s volleyball competition, Al-Ahli won against Al-Ittihad in three clean sets. Similarly, Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, and Al-Anqaa secured victories against their respective opponents. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 November 2023
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Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad triumph in volleyball clashes at Saudi Games

Al-Hilal, Al-Ittihad triumph in volleyball clashes at Saudi Games
  • Al-Hilal defeat Abha by three sets to one
  • In the women’s competition, Al-Ahli defeat Al-Ittihad in three clean sets

RIYADH: Al-Ahli men’s volleyball club defeated Damac in a match held at the Ministry of Sports Hall in the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex during the Saudi Games 2023 competitions.
Al-Hilal defeated Abha by three sets to one, before Al-Ittihad beat Al-Khaleej by a similar result.
In the women’s volleyball competition, Al-Ahli won against Al-Ittihad in three clean sets. Similarly, Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, and Al-Anqaa secured victories against their respective opponents.

Weightlifting
Weightlifting enthusiasts witnessed the youth, women, and men’s competitions at the Riyadh Club Sport Hall on Friday. Al-Hada Club’s Murtadha Al-Nasser outclassed his contenders in the 55 kg youth category, leading with a total of 198 kg.
In the women’s 49 kg competition, Margarita Yelisseyeva from Al-Nour Club came out on top with a total of 133 kg.
In the men’s 61 kg category, players from Al Taraji team claimed the top three positions.
Seraaj Al Saleem came in first with a total of 265 kg, followed by Mansour Al Saleem with 255 kg and Laith Al Baqer with 248 kg.

Billiards and snooker
Billiards saw the 32nd round of 10-ball billiards for men, the 16th round of 14-ball snooker for men took place, and the nine-ball billiards for women.

Wheelchair basketball
The Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex’s Paralympic Hall hosted the wheelchair basketball competitions. The Riyadh team defeated Al-Qassim with a score of 102-15, while the Jazan team claimed victory against Al-Hasa by 36-20.

Saturday’s competitions
The Green Hall at Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex hosts volleyball action, featuring both men’s and women’s teams as part of Saturday’s competitions.
Meanwhile, Riyadh Club Sports Hall hosts weightlifting competitions, and wheelchair basketball matches resume in the Paralympic Hall.
The Black Diamond Center will see the completion of billiards competitions, while the kiteboarding competitions will conclude at the Lagoona Resort at the King Abdullah Economic City in Jeddah.
Boxing competitions are set to begin in the swimming hall of the King Saud University, featuring various weight categories for both men and women.
Additionally, men’s and women’s singles badminton competitions will commence at the Leadership Development Institute at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex.

Guinness World Records challenges in the fan zone
The fan zone at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex opens its doors to visitors on Sunday to offer an array of interactive experiences, including the active program from the Guinness Book of World Records. Participants can challenge themselves, friends, and family to break world records and create memorable moments. Entry to the fan zone is free, but advanced registration is required via the website tickets.saudigames.sa.


First La Liga Futures competition in Saudi Arabia kicks off March 1

First La Liga Futures competition in Saudi Arabia kicks off March 1
Updated 29 February 2024
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First La Liga Futures competition in Saudi Arabia kicks off March 1

First La Liga Futures competition in Saudi Arabia kicks off March 1
  • The U-14 tournament, hosted at Mahd Sports Academy in Riyadh, will feature 8 La Liga and 4 international teams

MADRID: La Liga FC Futures U-14, a flagship tournament featuring the youth academies of top-tier Spanish clubs, and being held in Saudi Arabia for the first time, kicks off on March 1.

The matches, to be played at Mahd Sports Academy in Riyadh, has been organized in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sports. For the first time, the players making up the competing sides will be in the under-14 category and will play 11-a-side matches.

The tournament will feature 12 clubs, eight EA Sports La Liga teams, plus AS Roma (Italy), SL Benfica (Portugal), Olympique de Marseille (France) and Mahd Academy (Saudi Arabia).

La Liga’s leadership chose Saudi Arabia as the host because of the country’s emergence as a hub for sporting and cultural activities in recent years. The most popular sport in the Kingdom is football, with the highest level of participation among those under the age of 30.

For the past 15 years, La Liga matches have been followed by millions of football fans across the Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia now has six official supporter clubs.

The 12 teams will be divided into three groups: Mahd Academy, FC Barcelona, AS Roma and Cadiz CF (Group A); Atletico de Madrid, Olympique de Marseille, Sevilla FC and Villarreal CF (Group B); and Real Betis, Valencia CF, SL Benfica and CA Osasuna (Group C).

Matches will kick off on March 1 at 9:30 a.m. (Saudi Arabia time) and March 2 at 10 a.m., with the quarterfinals being played on Saturday at 5 p.m. The semifinals will kick off at 10 a.m. on Sunday, with the final at 5 p.m.


Saudi Paralympic weightlifters participate in Dubai’s Fazza Para powerlifting championships

Saudi Paralympic weightlifters participate in Dubai’s Fazza Para powerlifting championships
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi Paralympic weightlifters participate in Dubai’s Fazza Para powerlifting championships

Saudi Paralympic weightlifters participate in Dubai’s Fazza Para powerlifting championships
  • Saudi participants who win gold, silver or bronze qualify for Paris 2024 Olympics
  • Mohammed Al-Harbi, president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, heads 12-player team

DUBAI: The Saudi Paralympic weightlifting team hopes taking part in the Fazza 13th Para Powerlifting 2024 World Cup will mean qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The championships, which started on Wednesday, are being held in Dubai until Mar. 6. Saudi participants who win gold, silver or bronze medals are automatically eligible for the 2024 Olympics.
Mohammed Al-Harbi, president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, heads a 12-strong team that comprises Adnan Bousaid, Talal Al-Balawi, Asil Hausawi, Tariq Balghaith, Saeed Hausawi, Khalid Al-Najim, Sulaiman Al-Shaddoukhi, Abbad Hausawi, Fajr Al-Sumairy, Shareefa Al-Amari, Hassna Al-Najm, and Maha Al-Rashidi.


UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl continue to set pace at the top of the table

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl continue to set pace at the top of the table
Updated 26 February 2024
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UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl continue to set pace at the top of the table

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl continue to set pace at the top of the table
  • Reigning champions Shabab Al-Ahli return to winning ways, while Al-Ain stay in second with win over Baniyas

Al-Wasl’s searing pace at the top of the standings continued, champions Shabab Al-Ahli returned to winning ways and there was more misery for promoted clubs during the ADNOC Pro League’s matchweek 14.

A first full schedule since late December — a lengthy pause for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup was extended by multiple weather postponements — began with bottom-placed Emirates Club and second-bottom Hatta suffering 10th defeats of the season.

Goals for Raniel, on 10 seconds, and Uzbekistan midfielder Azizbek Amonov helped Khor Fakkan prevail 2-0 against the latter, while rampant Wasl breezed past the former via the same scoreline thanks to efforts from nine-goal UAE forward Fabio De Lima and prolific South Korea center-back Jung Seung-hyun. They now lead the table by eight points.

Shabab Al-Ahi, meanwhile, had a trio of Brazil-born scorers to thank when they ended a two-match winless streak in their comfortable 3-0 victory versus 12th-placed Ajman. Also, a 94th-minute tap-in from promising youngster Josna Epifani Loulendo kept the 2023-2024 AFC Champions League quarterfinalists Al-Ain in the hunt with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Baniyas.

There was drama in Abu Dhabi when Mirel Radoi’s league bow for Al-Jazira ended in a 3-2 defeat to Alfred Schreuder’s rapidly improving Al-Nasr, featuring iconic striker Ali Mabkhout’s 96th-minute saved penalty. Also, Caio netted when Sharjah beat Ittihad Kalba 1-0 and Al-Wahda came from behind to down Al-Bataeh 2-1.

Here are Arab News’ top picks and a talking point from the latest action.

Player of the week: Igor Jesus (Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club)

It has been an eventful few weeks for Shabab Al-Ahli’s prodigiously talented, but injury impacted, youngster.

Months of speculation about a return to Brazil or a move to Europe’s major leagues looked to have been ended by this month’s announcement that Igor Jesus had gained Emirati citizenship. It has put the 22-year-old on a fast track to eventually represent the UAE senior side, which is a major boost following January’s disappointing round-of-16 exit at the Asian Cup.

On the pitch, the ex-Coritiba attacker has been rarely seen this term. Yet more knee problems had restricted him to just five league run-outs across 201 minutes, prior to Sunday’s visit of Ajman.

If anyone needed a reminder about Jesus’ residual ability, it came versus the Orange Brigade.

A precision-guided seventh-minute corner from UAE prospect Harib Abdalla was nodded home. Jesus would add an assist to his name in the second half when he played in Guilherme Bala, another naturalized Emirati/Brazilian, who did the rest with an adroit turn and impudent low finish.

The ice pack applied to Jesus’ leg showed caution when he was called off to the bench which included an instant debut for prominent Iran center midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi.

There is such youth and electricity among Shabab Al-Ahli’s attacking options. They must regularly spark to stand any chance of hauling back Wasl.

Goal of the week: Ahmad Nourollahi (Al-Wahda)

Ahmad Nourollahi’s garlanded career has contained many standout moments.

From representing his nation at the 2022 World Cup, to hoarding trophies with Persepolis and adding last season’s ADNOC Pro League crown to his resume at Shabab Al-Ahli.

Acrobatic scissor kicks, however, were not associated with him. That is, before, Sunday’s comeback triumph at Bataeh.

A hopeful cross from right-back Abdullah Al-Karbi was hung up towards the penalty box. There appeared little danger, at this point.

Nourollahi’s lethal combination of athleticism and imagination then sent the ball arrowing into the bottom corner, at the start of the second half. This would propel fifth-placed Wahda to victory, earned through impressive Uzbekistan winter recruit Khojimat Erkinov.

Coach of the week: Alfred Schreuder (Al-Nasr)

UAE football’s sleeping giant is showing signs of stirring.

Nasr have had the history, glamorous Dubai location and outstanding Al-Maktoum Stadium, plus a list of stellar previous players that includes Yohan Cabaye, Alvaro Negredo and Luca Toni. Yet even the hint of glory has eluded them for so long.

This might be changing under Schreuder. The former Ajax and Al-Ain tactician inspired a third win from their last five league run-outs at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

It came through a blend of ex-Benfica maestro Adel Taarabt, plus young stars Abdoulaye Toure and Moussa Ndiaye.

Nasr are now comfortably midtable in seventh, after flirting with relegation under Goran Tufegdzic.

It is now up to the club to provide Schreuder with the order required to create sustained success. With six permanent managers since October 2019, this is not guaranteed.

Assessing Al-Ain’s Asian outlook

Al-Ain are flying the flag for their nation in next month’s AFC Champions League quarterfinals.

No less than Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr await on March 4 and 11, in a West Asia side of the draw packed by three heavyweight Saudi Arabian challengers.

The task is a stern one if The Boss are to add to their 2002-2003 continental title. Certainly, it will require improvement from their last-gasp victory at Baniyas Stadium.

Those three points, however, came at a cost with leading 11-goal marksman Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba being removed through injury. There is no natural replacement for the Togo star within their ranks.

South Korea anchorman Park Yong-woo has gone deep into this tournament before at Ulsan Hyundai.

Steady progress under legendary ex-Argentine, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo has seen six wins accrued from their last seven matches in all competitions. The Boss are also second domestically, with a game in hand.

Crucially, Crespo must learn lessons from the February 2023 7-0 blitzing of his Al-Duhail side by holders Al-Hilal.


Riyadh to host leg of Global Champions Arabians Tour

Riyadh to host leg of Global Champions Arabians Tour
Updated 25 February 2024
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Riyadh to host leg of Global Champions Arabians Tour

Riyadh to host leg of Global Champions Arabians Tour
  • Along with Riyadh, events will be held in Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Cannes, Valkenswaard in the Netherlands, and in Rome and Paris 

LONDON: Riyadh will host a leg of the Global Champions Arabians Tour later this year, it was announced on Sunday.

The event, whose date has yet to be confirmed, will be hosted by the Saudi Arabian Equestrian Federation.

Doha has already hosted the first event of the GCAT circuit and, along with Riyadh, events will be held in Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Cannes, Rome, Paris, and Valkenswaard in the Netherlands. 

SAEF President Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support for equestrian sports in Saudi Arabia. 

“The great advancement we are witnessing today in the equestrian sector is a result of the unlimited support from our wise leadership,” Prince Abdulaziz said.

“This has made the Kingdom a global focal point for all equestrian sports, resulting in great successes in high-level organization, event diversity, and a clear vision that positions Saudi Arabia as the foremost global destination.

“I extend my sincere thanks to Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, minister of sports, for his support and continuous follow-up.”

The SAEF hopes that hosting the event will provide competitive opportunities for local talent, attract new audiences and encourage investment in the sport. 

In April, Saudi Arabia will also host the FEI Jumping World Cup, which will be a first for the Middle East. And in 2026, the Kingdom is slated to host the World Challenge Championship.


US and local glory as Senor Buscador wins $20m Saudi Cup main race

US and local glory as Senor Buscador wins $20m Saudi Cup main race
Updated 24 February 2024
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US and local glory as Senor Buscador wins $20m Saudi Cup main race

US and local glory as Senor Buscador wins $20m Saudi Cup main race
  • 6-year-old, owned by Saudi Sharaf Mohammed S. Al-Hariri and American Joe R. Peacock Junior, won the race by a head

LONDON: Senor Buscador came from a long way back to win a dramatic Saudi Cup race on Saturday under jockey Junior Alvarado, beating Ushba Tesoro and Saudi Crown.

The 6-year-old, owned by Saudi Sharaf Mohammed S. Al-Hariri and American Joe R. Peacock Junior, won the race by a head to make up for a second-placed finish at the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational last month.

The winning team take home half of the $20 million pot, with $3.5 million going to the Ushba Tesoro team and $2 million to the locally-owned Saudi Crown team.

“The plan, as of now, is Dubai,” winning trainer Todd Fincher said after the race at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, referencing the Dubai World Cup race set to run on March 30.

“I don’t have the words to put it all together that express how pleased and grateful I am for this victory and for representing my country and winning this race, I still don’t have the right words,” Alvarado told Arab News.

“He (Senor Buscador) had more speed just because some horses broke from different positions, I never like to change the style of the horse.

“I was in a good spot in the back just looking at everything just biding my time, letting him get his feet under, and he’s a horse that when he’s ready he will start letting you know, he will start picking up (pace) and after that you just start riding along with him,” he added.

Alvarado was full of praise for his charge and the King Abdulaziz track.

“It was a very exciting race, I think the best of the horses was running today, mine was one of the best horses and he proved it today that he was one of the top performers and one of those horses in the world,” he said.

“It’s definitely a different track, a different feeling, but the horses move out very well on it and it feels like probably top three one of the best tracks I’ve rode in the world for sure,” he added.

The first edition of the Saudi Cup race was held in 2020 and the event attracts the world’s finest thoroughbreds and jockeys for the biggest prize in world racing.