Al-Hilal look good in AFC Champions League after another victory

Special Al-Hilal look good in AFC Champions League after another victory
Action from Al-Hilal’s 2-1 win over Nassaji Mazandaran. (X/@Alhilal_EN)
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Updated 04 December 2023
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Al-Hilal look good in AFC Champions League after another victory

Al-Hilal look good in AFC Champions League after another victory
  • A 2-1 win over Nassaji Mazandaran ensures top spot in Group D
  • Jorge Jesus’ men are looking unstoppable at the moment, even when they rest top-class international players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Al-Hilal made sure of top spot in Group D of the AFC Champions League on Monday with a 2-1 win over Nassaji Mazandaran.

Goals in each half from Michael and Salem Al-Dawsari proved enough to defeat the Iranians and for Al-Hilal to progress to the second round unbeaten and in fine form with 15 wins from the last 15 in all competitions.

Jorge Jesus’ men are looking unstoppable at the moment, even when they rest top-class international players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

Both of those players scored in last Friday’s 3-0 win over Al-Nassr in the Riyadh derby, and Al-Hilal carried on from where they had left off, scoring this time after just four minutes.

Mohammed Al-Breik collected the ball on the left side of the area and rolled it across the six-yard box. It evaded everyone but Michael who was there at the far post to blast home from close range.

The Blues continued to push forward and Saud Abdulhamid, Al-Breik, and Saleh Al-Shehri — given a rare start by his coach after his recent heroics for the national team — all had attempts on goal.

Home fans may have expected their side to stroll to victory but, while dominating possession, they were made to work for the second goal.

They thought they had it just before the half hour when Abdullah Al-Hamdan broke free of the defense, but his low shot was well saved by Hossein Khatir. That was not the end of the danger either, as the ball bounced off Amir Houshmand and headed toward goal before the goalkeeper clawed it off the line.

The visitors, who had already been eliminated, had not looked too dangerous going forward, but that changed just before the break. Hossein Zamehran took a free-kick from the right and Mahmoud Rahmati stooped to send a perfect low header toward the opposite corner, Yassine Bounou getting down quickly to make a fine diving save.

Al-Hilal grabbed a second goal early in the second half. Al-Hamdan lifted a pass over the defense for Al-Dawsari who, under pressure from defenders, pushed the ball past the goalkeeper.

It all looked too easy, and with 13 minutes remaining, the Iranians pulled one back through Rahmati. Kalidou Koulibaly headed away a cross but it fell to the forward who volleyed high into the net to give Bounou no chance.

That was it as far as goals were concerned, but there looks to be much more to come in the AFC Champions League for Al-Hilal.


Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest

Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest
Updated 16 sec ago
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Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest

Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest
  • Karachi bowlers Mir Hamza, Hassan Ali return figures of 3/28, 3/30 to dismiss Zalmi for 154
  • Zalmi skipper Babar Azam’s 72-run knock comes to naught as his team suffers second PSL 9 loss

ISLAMABAD: Backed by impressive bowling performances from Mir Hamza and Hassan Ali, Karachi Kings thrashed Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

The Kings won the toss and elected to field first against Zalmi in the sixth match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 tournament. The decision proved to be the correct one as Hamza and Ali dealt severe blows to the Zalmi batters, dismissing the “Yellow Storm” for 154 runs.

Skipper Babar Azam scored 72 runs off 51 balls but could not find ample support from the middle order as Ali and Hamza kept picking wickets one by one. Rovman Powell scored 39 from 25 balls while Asif Ali scored 23 off 16 balls to lend some support to Azam.

“I think we scored less, we lost few wickets in power play,” Azam said at the post-match press conference. “You have to build partnerships and that’s what we missed today.”

Kings bowlers Hamza returned figures of 3/28 while Ali finished with 3/30. Daniel Sams returned figures of 2/28 while spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Shoaib Malik took one wicket each.

The Kings chased the target in 16.5 overs at the loss of three wickets. Skipper Shan Masood scored 16 runs while Muhammad Akhlaq made 24 runs. James Vince and Keiron Pollard remained unbeaten on 38 and 49 runs respectively to guide their team to victory.

Zalmi bowlers Luke Wood returned figures of 2/20 while Waqar Salamkheil finished with 1/54 from his four overs.

Peshawar Zalmi remain at the bottom of the table with two losses from as many games while Karachi Kings have moved up to fourth place with a win and a loss from their two matches.


Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief

Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief
Updated 10 min 10 sec ago
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Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief

Saudi Hockey Federation president welcomes international federation chief
  • Mohammed Al-Mandil, Saudi Hockey Federation president, and Tayyab Ikram, International Hockey Federation president, discussed ways to develop the game

RIYADH: Ways to enhance, promote and develop hockey in the Kingdom were discussed by Saudi Hockey Federation President Mohammed Al-Mandil and International Hockey Federation President Tayyab Ikram on Wednesday.
Al-Mandil welcomed Ikram at the SHF’s headquarters in Riyadh during a meeting that was also attended by Abdulellah Almymoon, SHF’s executive director.
The president of the Saudi Hockey Federation presented a token of appreciation to the IHF’s chief and thanked him for his efforts in the growth and support of field hockey internationally, and in appreciation of his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Al-Mandil also confirmed the federation’s commitment to developing this Olympic sport at the local level through its sports activities, and through cooperative agreements with schools and universities to create a generation passionate about the sport.
He said that SHF’s strategy was to include hockey as a sport in collaboration with Saudi sports clubs to enhance competition and integration within society.


Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile

Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile
Updated 18 min 31 sec ago
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Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile

Besiktas club scraps promising footballer’s contract over dating app profile
  • Turkish Super Lig club announced on X that they had ‘amicably parted ways’ with Emirhan Delibas
  • 21-year-old player denies that the Bumble profile is his, and labels account ‘fake’

BEIRUT: Promising Turkish footballer Emirhan Delibas had his contract terminated with top-tier club Besiktas after he was reportedly discovered to have created a profile on the Bumble dating app.
Images circulated across social media showed that Delibas’s age on the verified Bumble account was 24, meanwhile his age as per Besiktas’s records is 21. The profile also showed the player posing in the club’s jersey.
News around Beskitas terminating the contract of their academy player surfaced late on Monday shortly after the blue-ticked account was spotted and went viral across social media.
The Super Lig club announced on X that they had “amicably parted ways” with Delibas, who has denied that the profile is his and labelled the account “fake.”
The rising star made two senior appearances before leaving but had progressed through Besiktas’ youth academy and represented them at various age levels.
“We have parted ways with professional football player Emirhan Delibas by mutual agreement. We wish Emirhan Delibas success in his future career and present it to the public,” the club said on X without announcing the reasons.
Turkish media reports said that the player posted on his Instagram: “I reject the slanders made by fake accounts and would like to state that my loyalty to my team cannot be questioned.”
Commenting over the incident, Emirati football fan and lawyer Salem Al-Hammadi told Arab News that nowadays a footballer’s behavior, on and off the field, was related — and important.
“A player’s behavior is linked to his contract on the field through his commitment to training and performance, and off the field, if he commits to a healthy lifestyle, through having healthy food and not staying up late,” Al-Hammadi said.
A player influenced fans and the club’s reputation, and this imposed an obligation on footballers not to behave in a way that could harm their club’s reputation, he said.
“This is what we have noticed through political problems, for example. All players’ actions off the pitch are monitored by their fans (on social media) and have a direct impact. So, players must pay good attention to their behavior, and clubs have to include all matters in the contracts,” Al-Hammadi said.
Meanwhile, retired Lebanese footballer and coach Ibrahim Hassan said that when he played football in the 1970s and 1980s social media didn’t exist, so such matters did not impact players or clubs.
“Nowadays, any tiny detail matters and it could strain the relationship between a footballer and his club or fans. It’s true that footballers are human beings, but eventually they are considered public figures who need to be attentive, as any unacceptable or misbehavior on social media could be devastating … anything they post or do could jeopardize their contracts,” said Hassan, who recalled a number of incidents involving footballers who were terminated or punished for supporting Palestinians amid the Gaza war.
However, football fan Jad Maroun believes that players have a right to some “private and family life,” especially on social media. “Players are independent humans who also have the right to express their views and not be punished twice, by clubs or fans … I guess Besiktas’s decision to terminate the player is harsh and unfair,” Maroun said.
Delibas has also represented Turkiye at U-17, U-18 and U-19 level.


Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day
Updated 16 min 55 sec ago
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Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

RIYADH: Brazilian football star Neymar caught everyone’s attention when he appeared wearing traditional Saudi clothes during preparations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day celebrations.

His club, Al-Hilal, shared photographs of the player wearing the thobe, shemagh and headband famously associated with the late King Abdulaziz, showcasing the general atmosphere ahead of the day.

Neymar was accompanied by Esteve Calzada, the CEO of Al-Hilal, and Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, along with other teammates, and trended on social media platform X dancing the Ardah, Saudi’s national dance.

The widely adopted white thobe in the Kingdom, favored for its comfort in the hot climate and desert setting, is complemented by other traditional attire for special occasions. This includes Oughal Almorudan, worn over the thobe, distinguished by its long arms and commonly donned during Ardah performances.

The 32-year-old recently returned to Riyadh to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee. He sustained the injury during Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers last October.

Founding Day is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year to commemorate its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

The Saudi Ministry of Sports recently announced the 21st round of the Roshan Professional League tournament would be named the Founding Round to symbolize the day’s significance.

Neymar is not the only player to celebrate Founding Day with his Saudi fans. Last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was shown wearing traditional attire along with his Al-Nassr teammates.


Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests

Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests
Updated 21 February 2024
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Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests

Bundesliga investor deal collapses after fan protests
  • “Given current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible,” Hans-Joachim Watzke said
  • Fans had littered pitches with tennis balls and chocolate coins, attached bike locks to the goals and released toy cars onto the field to signal their opposition to the deal

FRANKFURT, Germany: The German Football League (DFL) on Wednesday dropped a huge cash injection deal with investors for a share of Bundesliga media revenues after widespread fan protests, a U-turn hailed by fanclubs as a “success” for supporters.
“Given current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible,” Hans-Joachim Watzke said in a statement on behalf of the DFL’s board.
Fans had littered pitches with tennis balls and chocolate coins, attached bike locks to the goals and released toy cars onto the field to signal their opposition to the deal.
The protests interrupted matches over the last weeks, leading referees to even threaten to abandon games.
In December, German clubs voted by a two-thirds majority in favor of the plan to “secure long-term and sustainable success.”
In exchange for eight percent of future TV rights, the league would receive an immediate investment, said to be close to one billion euros ($1.1 billion), to help market and promote the Bundesliga internationally.
Despite excellent stadium attendances and a lucrative domestic TV deal, international interest in the Bundesliga lags behind that of England’s Premier League or Spain’s La Liga.
But Germany’s powerful fan clubs say the investor process lacked transparency and ignored supporters’ wishes.
German football has a notable commitment to fan control and involvement via a “50+1” rule which restricts the degree of influence an external investor can have over a club.
The rule is incredibly popular among German fans, many of whom value it more than success on the field.
Hailing Wednesday’s decision, fan group Unsere Kurve said the “comprehensive, but very peaceful and very creative protests were ultimately the key to success.”
German football was being tested by the protests, “even if a large majority are in favor of the necessity of the strategic partnership,” Watzke said.
“Fan groups are causing major clashes, which are increasingly jeopardizing game operations... and thus the integrity of the competition,” said Watzke, who also serves as CEO of Borussia Dortmund.
Under the circumstances, the completion of the deal “cannot be guaranteed,” he said, adding that the decision to drop the investor tie-up was unanimous.
A similar proposal which sought to sell off a higher percentage of the TV revenue for a larger fee failed to get the necessary majority when put to a vote in May last year.