Al-Fayha keep AFC Champions League hopes alive with win over Ahal

Al-Fayha keep AFC Champions League hopes alive with win over Ahal
Al-Fayha now sit in third place with six points while Ahal remain on four points in last place. (X: @Alfaihaclub)
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Updated 29 November 2023
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Al-Fayha keep AFC Champions League hopes alive with win over Ahal

Al-Fayha keep AFC Champions League hopes alive with win over Ahal
  • 3-1 victory leaves Saudi club 3rd in Group A with hopes of progress to round of 16 riding on Dec. 5 matches

RIYADH: Al-Fayha breathed life into their AFC Champions League campaign on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win over Ahal FC of Turkmenistan at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Sports City Stadium in Riyadh.

The victory was the Saudi team’s second in Group A and means they go into the sixth and final round of matches with hopes of progress to the round of 16 still alive.

Al-Fayha’s goals came from Anthony Nwakaeme’s penalty in the 19th minute, Fashion Sakala in the sixth added minute of the first half, and Sultan Mandash on 74 minutes. Elman Tagayev had equalized for Ahal from a spot kick in the 25th minute.

Al-Fayha now sit in third place with six points while Ahal remain on four points in last place.

Al-Ain of the UAE top the group with 12 points while Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan are second with seven.

Al-Fayah visit Pakhtakor for their final Group A fixture on Dec. 5.


Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha

Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha

Saudis victorious at GCC Golf Championship in Doha
  • Khalid Attiya took top prize in individual competition while the team event saw Kingdom’s golfers awarded gold
  • Prince Khalid bin Saud: Our team’s prowess and dedication were evident throughout the championship, culminating in a well-deserved victory

DOHA: Saudi golfers have emerged triumphant at the Gulf Cooperation Council Golf Championship, claiming gold in both the team and individual categories.

The 26th edition of the tournament for adults — held alongside the 15th edition for youth — was hosted at the Doha Club in the Qatari capital and saw five teams from the GCC take part.

The individual gold medal went to Khalid Attiya, who clinched victory after a showdown with Qatari contender Saleh Al-Kaabi on the tournament’s final day.

The Saudi’s four rounds yielded 297 strokes, for an impressive nine-under winning total.

Meanwhile, the Saudi team maintained a commanding lead throughout the championship to secure the top position in the adults category.

Noah Alireza, CEO of Golf Saudi, praised the Saudi team’s achievement, highlighting their consistent excellence throughout the championship.

“At Golf Saudi, our unwavering dedication is to foster players’ success,” Alireza said, highlighting the significance of the the championship as a platform for players to hone their skills against the best of the GCC.

Prince Khalid bin Saud, a prominent player, commended the Saudi team’s performance, attributing their success to the invaluable support of the Saudi Golf Federation.

“Our team’s prowess and dedication were evident throughout the championship, culminating in a well-deserved victory,” he said.

Following his victory, Attiya expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support of the Saudi Golf Federation, which enabled him and the team to emerge victorious.

“The Saudi team’s strong presence and performance were instrumental in securing our place atop the podium,” he said.


Saudi Ministry of Education Integrates rugby into physical education curriculum

Saudi Ministry of Education Integrates rugby into physical education curriculum
Updated 04 March 2024
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Saudi Ministry of Education Integrates rugby into physical education curriculum

Saudi Ministry of Education Integrates rugby into physical education curriculum
  • Initially starting in Riyadh, training programs will be offered to 25 girls’ schools and 25 boys’ schools before expanding to the rest of the Kingdom
  • Initiative underscores the Ministry of Education’s commitment to diversifying sports education and promoting physical activity among the youth

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Education has announced today the inclusion of rugby as an elective sport within its physical education and student activities curriculum.

The School Rugby Initiative aims to introduce rugby as an optional learning unit in PE programs across the nation.

As part of this initiative, ongoing training courses will be offered to 25 girls’ schools and 25 boys’ schools across various educational stages. Initially launching in the Riyadh educational region, the program is part of a planned expansion to other regions of the Kingdom in the coming years.

The initiative was officially launched with a presentation by the technical director of the Saudi Arabian Rugby Federation, Sami Mohammed Samara, to 46 physical education teachers from public schools in Riyadh, culminating in a symbolic gesture of tossing rugby balls from ministry representatives to the teachers, marking the kickoff of this groundbreaking initiative.

Recognizing rugby sevens as an Olympic sport, the inclusion of rugby in the curriculum is poised to expand and accelerate the pathway for young players to excel in the sport. This strategic move aims to cultivate a strong foundation for rugby in the Kingdom, enabling aspiring athletes to represent Saudi Arabia in elite sporting events, including the Olympics.

Ali Musbah Al-Dajani, president of the Saudi Rugby Federation, and Dr. Anwar bin Abdullah Abu Abbad, head of student activities, both expressed their enthusiasm and support for the initiative, highlighting its potential to enrich the physical education landscape and foster a new generation of rugby enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia.

This initiative underscores the Ministry of Education’s commitment to diversifying sports education and promoting physical activity among the youth, aligning with broader educational and developmental goals within the Kingdom.


NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals

NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals
Updated 04 March 2024
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NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals

NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals
  • Under agreement terms, team will sport NEOM’s corporate brand logo during India Premier League in 2024 and 2025

NEOM: NEOM, the sustainable development taking shape in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, announced it has been appointed as principal partner of Rajasthan Royals, one of India’s leading T20 cricket league teams.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rajasthan Royals will sport NEOM’s corporate brand logo on the chest of all official team clothing during the India Premier League in 2024 and 2025.

“We are delighted to welcome NEOM on board as our principal partner. This landmark deal, emblematic of our global reach, national appeal as a franchise and cricketing expertise, signifies a shared commitment towards creating a positive societal impact,” Manoj Badale, lead owner of Rajasthan Royals, said.

“Over the past year, our collaboration has not only elevated cricket within NEOM through the strategic implementation of our workforce cricket program but has also contributed significantly to their mission of fostering a physically active and inclusive society.

“We are excited to be the flag bearers of cricket in NEOM, with the potential to contribute to the overall growth of the sport across the Kingdom, which is being driven by the Saudi Arabian government and the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation,” he added.

“This partnership also provides us with the opportunity to work as a conduit for fostering connections between NEOM and our passionate Indian supporters.”

The partnership builds on the success of a 2023 pilot program, with this year’s initiative marking another step forward in NEOM’s commitment to nurturing a physically active and healthy society.

Its work with both Rajasthan Royals and the SACF will enable NEOM to provide cricket opportunities for men and women, supporting young Saudi talent to excel in the sport.

Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud, chairman of the SACF, said: “We are thrilled to see the formalization of NEOM’s cricket partnership with Rajasthan Royals, which holds great promise for the growth of the sport across Saudi Arabia. It’s important that we continue to develop a vibrant cricket community that can be enjoyed by all.”

Jan Paterson, managing director of NEOM Sport, said: “Following a successful pilot program last year, we are excited to take our partnership with the Royals to the next level as a principal partner and continue growing cricket as a tool for social growth. Working with the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation and Rajasthan Royals will enable us to provide cricket for men, women, girls and boys alike, across NEOM. This will pave the way for development at an individual level and contribute to the growth of the sport across the Kingdom while amplifying the NEOM brand globally.”


All you need to know about the all-female 2024 F1 Academy race

All you need to know about the all-female 2024 F1 Academy race
This season, all 10 Formula 1 teams will support one driver who will have the team’s livery on their car. (FILE/AFP)
Updated 04 March 2024
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All you need to know about the all-female 2024 F1 Academy race

All you need to know about the all-female 2024 F1 Academy race

Here is everything you need to know about the Kingdom’s inaugural F1 Academy race — opening the second season of the all-female racing series — taking place in Jeddah from March 6 to 8 ahead of the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Created by Formula 1 in 2022, the F1 Academy is an all-female racing category featuring some of the world’s best drivers. It is designed to develop women racers aged 25 and under.

Susie Wolff, wife of Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, holds the position of managing director at the F1 Academy.

This season, all 10 Formula 1 teams will support one driver who will have the team’s livery on their car. Brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Puma and Charlotte Tilbury have stepped in to sponsor the remaining drivers.

Teams and drivers

The five teams on the F1 Academy grid are Rodin Motorsport, Prema Racing, Campos Racing, ART Grand Prix and MP Motorsport.

Each team will have three drivers, compared to two in Formula One.

Nine of the 15 drivers from the inaugural season are set to return including Emirati sisters Hamda and Amna Al-Qubaisi, both backed by Red Bull.

The full 2024 lineup is below:

Full 2024 F1 Academy schedule

The 2024 season will see seven rounds across three continents over the course of 10 months.

The opener will be held at Saudi Arabia's Jeddah Corniche Circuit before it hits the US at the Miami International Autodrome in May and the iconic Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the third round.

  • Round 1: March 6-8  Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • Round 2: May 2-4  Miami, US
  • Round 3: June 20-22  Barcelona, Spain
  • Round 4: Aug. 22-24  Zandvoort, Netherlands (Circuit Zandvoort)
  • Round 5: Sept. 19-21  Marina Bay, Singapore (Marina Bay Street Circuit)
  • Round 6: Nov. 28-30  Lusail, Qatar (Lusail International Circuit)
  • Round 7: Dec. 5-7  Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina Circuit)

Points system

Each weekend there will be a qualifying round and two races. During qualifying, each driver’s fastest lap will set the order for race one. The drivers’ second fastest laps will set the grid for race two.

In both races, points will be awarded to the top 10 classified drivers as follows — from 25 to one — as they are in Formula 1. Each weekend, a driver is able to accumulate a total of 56 points; the teams are competing for 122 points.

For more information click here


Ronaldo returns against Al-Ain as Al-Nassr eye AFC Champions League glory

Ronaldo returns against Al-Ain as Al-Nassr eye AFC Champions League glory
Updated 04 March 2024
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Ronaldo returns against Al-Ain as Al-Nassr eye AFC Champions League glory

Ronaldo returns against Al-Ain as Al-Nassr eye AFC Champions League glory
  • 9 points behind Al-Hilal in the SPL title race, Al-Nassr’s best chance of success this season could be in the Asian competition

RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo returns to action for Al-Nassr on Monday with a simple task: rescue the team’s season and lead them to success in the AFC Champions League.

On Monday, the nine-time Saudi Arabia champions will make the short trip to the UAE to take on Al-Ain in the first leg of the quarterfinal in Asia’s biggest club competition. It comes at a crucial time in the season for a team that has never won the continental title.

At the moment, Al-Nassr are in second in the Roshn Saudi League but Ronaldo was on the sidelines last Thursday with head in his hands as Al-Nassr hosted the bottom team Al-Hazem.

Four times the Yellows took the lead and fans and Ronaldo sat back in anticipation of a comfortable win. Yet four times the visitors came back, helped by some dreadful Al-Nassr defending, to draw 4-4 and grab a point.

The 39-year-old had been banned for one game after making an offensive gesture during a Saudi Arabia league match four days earlier. At the end of the 3-2 win over Al-Shabab, video footage appeared to show Ronaldo cupping his ear and repeatedly thrusting his hand forward near his pelvis, in a gesture that seemed to be aimed at Al-Shabab fans.

The draw with Al-Hazem leaves Al-Nassr — even at this stage of the season — with a mountain to climb if they are to win the Saudi Pro League.

“Ronaldo strengthens the team and ensures that the opponent respects you more but his absence had nothing to do with the result,” said a visibly frustrated Al-Nassr coach Luis Castro. “The fact is that we are conceding too many goals and the problem is not organizational but due to individual mistakes. At the moment we are now focused on the Asian Champions League.”

Al-Hilal’s 3-1 win over Al-Ittihad on Friday leaves them strong favorites for another league championship. In theory it is not over — Hilal themselves have overturned such deficits in the past to lift the title. But with the leaders winning their last 25 games in all competitions, it is almost unimaginable that they will not win a 19th league title.

So it means that Al-Nassr know that only glory in Asia and winning the continental championship for the first time will save their season. The King’s Cup is always a welcome domestic trophy, but does not quite hold the same gravitas.

The tie against Al-Ain will not be easy. The Emirati club won their group and then got past Nasaf of Uzbekistan in the round of 16. They are going well at home and abroad and are unbeaten in eight, with seven of those ending in victory.

They possess plenty of attacking talent and will have watched Al-Nassr’s defensive issues of late with interest. Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba especially will be looking forward to it. The Togolese international has already scored six goals in Asia this season and has been in fine form domestically.

Al-Ain boss Hernan Crespo will have some sympathy for Al-Nassr. The Argentine legend was in charge of Qatar’s Al-Duhail last year and took the team to the last four where they were hit for seven by Hilal.

“We know how strong Al-Nassr are,” said Crespo. “They are full of talented players and it will be a great challenge for us. You expect to face tough opposition at this stage of the continental championship. We will have to be at our best.”

While Ronaldo’s return is big news, there will also be huge interest in Tuesday’s clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad in Riyadh.

Hilal’s recent SPL win over the Tigers was deserved though, the team from Jeddah could have gone in at the break 2-0 ahead instead of 1-0, and then the rest of the game would have been very different.

The problem for Al-Ittihad, and shared by the rest of the Saudi Arabia teams as well as Asia, is how to stop Al-Hilal.

Now that the Blues are nine points clear at the top of the table, they can almost afford to turn their focus to the Champions League.

Hilal may still have Neymar out, but Aleksandar Mitrovic is in excellent form as are Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

But Al-Ittihad can also save their season. The best they can probably manage at home is to sneak into the top three.

A win in Asia, however, and a third continental title would make what has been a forgettable season into something special. It is the biggest game of their season and Al-Nassr can say the same.