Mancini’s Green Falcons looking for Saudi fans to help drive Asian Cup ambitions

Mancini’s Green Falcons looking for Saudi fans to help drive Asian Cup ambitions
The Asian Cup in Qatar could be further evidence of the vibrant football culture and love for the sport in the Middle East and North Africa region. (X.com/@SaudiNT)
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Updated 15 January 2024
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Mancini’s Green Falcons looking for Saudi fans to help drive Asian Cup ambitions

Mancini’s Green Falcons looking for Saudi fans to help drive Asian Cup ambitions
  • Saudi Arabia, like Morocco, received huge support from local crowds at 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but cannot count on neutrals this time0

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia kick off their AFC Asian Cup campaign against Oman on Tuesday, and though there will be massive pressure on manager Roberto Mancini’s side to immediately deliver with a win, the players are used to the huge occasions these days.

Attend a big game in the Saudi Pro League, such as the Riyadh Derby between Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr or a big game in Jeddah, and the atmosphere compares with any of those in the major European leagues. There are world-class tifos and banners and colourful, vociferous fans.

With global audiences increasingly tuning into Saudi football, the reputation of the fan culture and the passion for the game in the country and the wider region can only grow.

The Asian Cup in Qatar could be further evidence of the vibrant football culture and love for the sport in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Morocco showed that at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and it is an inspiration for Saudi Arabia. The Green Falcons will want to surpass Morocco’s semi-final achievement on the field, and they will also look to emulate North Africans in the stands.

Saudi Arabia’s team and supporters had some beautiful moments the last time they went to Qatar in November 2022.

When Herve Renard’s men took to the pitch at Lusail Stadium to face Argentina, they knew they were facing one of the best teams in the world and that nobody gave them a chance.

They did, however, have the support of the vast majority of the 80,000 fans in the arena. What happened next has gone down in the history of the competition as the Asian team came back from a goal down to win 2-1.

The Saudi fans, and those from Arab communities in Qatar, kept coming in the remaining group games against Poland and Mexico, although sadly Saudi Arabia failed to reach the knockout stages.

What Saudi Arabia started, Morocco took to the next level. Their support during the World Cup is one of the abiding memories of that tournament. The Atlas Lions fans turned stadiums into a sea of red and created unforgettable atmospheres that won praise from even the most hardened of international journalists.

That support helped drive the team on to success and that success then, in turn, helped fuel the fervor in the stands. The combination sent Morocco all the way to the last four, beating Belgium, Spain, and Portugal along the way before losing to France.

In 20 to 30 years when the tournament starts to fade from memories to become history, the fans of Morocco will still be talked about.

Saudi Arabia will want the same. The support they received at the World Cup was bolstered by local and regional fans for the games against opposition from Europe as well as South and Central America.

That will not be the case at the Asian Cup, as Saudi Arabia will not automatically be the choice of the neutrals at the stadiums and will certainly not be seen as underdogs as they were against the likes of Argentina.

This is a competition that Saudi Arabia have a genuine hope of winning and having the backing of tens of thousands of their followers will increase those chances. It has not happened since 1996 and the hunger is there.

Head coach Mancini will be looking to give those supporters something to cheer about. He has the knowhow to win international tournaments as he showed with Italy at the last European Championship.

He has surprised fans however by omitting goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Aqidi from his final squad. The Al-Nassr shot stopper is one of the few Saudi Arabians to get regular playing time in the league this season. With the 23-year-old seemingly uninjured, it looks to be a gamble from the Italian coach and any mistakes by the other goalkeepers will be highlighted. Yet these are the decisions that coaches live or die by.

Regardless of that controversial selection, the team will be cheered onto the pitch at Al-Khalifa Stadium. If the players can inspire the fans to go to the next level, then the 12th man will play their part. If so, a beautiful Moroccan-style momentum could develop and, this time, it could go all the way.


Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released

Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released
Updated 13 April 2024
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Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released

Official fight song for Tyson Fury v. Oleksandr Usyk Riyadh clash released
  • British WBC title holder Fury takes on Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion Usyk in Riyadh

LONDON: An official song and accompanying music video have been released to promote the upcoming heavyweight boxing match between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.

British WBC title holder Fury takes on Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO champion Usyk in Riyadh on May 18 at the Kingdom Arena in the “Ring of Fire” clash.

A clip for “Can’t Lose This Fight” was shared on social media by General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Alalshikh on Friday.

“This is the fight that everyone has wanted to see for some time and now it is finally happening – the world’s two heavyweight champions going into the ring against one another,” Alalshikh said in a statement in September when the fight was announced.

“It is the biggest fight in boxing, the world will be watching, and we are so proud to be the hosts for this spectacle as part of the fourth edition of our Riyadh Season celebrations.”


Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
Updated 12 April 2024
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Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants

Jake Fraser-McGurk shines on IPL debut as Delhi Capitals thrash Lucknow Super Giants
  • Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan
  • Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory

LUCKNOW: Jake Fraser-McGurk smashed a half-century on his Indian Premier League debut as Delhi Capitals thrashed Lucknow Super Giants by six wickets on Friday to reignite their hopes in the money-spinning T20 competition.
Fraser-McGurk, who had celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday, shared a 77-run partnership for the third wicket with captain Rishabh Pant (41) to help Delhi overhaul Lucknow’s 167-7 with 11 balls to spare.
Delhi moved to ninth in the 10-team contest after registering only their second victory from six outings.
Lucknow, who came into the match with three wins out of four, are now placed fourth.
“Spent five-six games on the sidelines itching to get out there,” said Fraser-McGurk.
“I’m so happy to be here, different world in terms of cricket. Never seen anything like it, to be able to savour eight weeks, hopefully more, is amazing.”
Delhi lost opener David Warner early with the Australian dragging a ball from Yash Thakur on to his stumps soon after he was attended to by the physio for a blow he took on his knuckles.
Prithvi Shaw (32) was caught brilliantly by Nicholas Pooran at deep midwicket off Ravi Bishnoi but Pant and Fraser-McGurk steadied the innings with their stand.
Fraser-McGurk, who went unsold in the IPL auction but came in as a replacement for Lungi Ngidi, hit Krunal Pandya for three huge sixes in a row in one over to underline his power-hitting prowess.
The Australian’s 55-run knock, studded with five sixes and two fours, came to an end when he holed out to Arshad Khan, but by then Delhi needed just 28 runs off 32 balls.
Pant went past 3,000 IPL runs before being stumped off Bishnoi for 41 off 24 balls including two sixes and four boundaries.
“We were about 15-20 runs short, we should’ve capitalized to get to 180,” said Lucknow skipper K.L. Rahul.
“McGurk was very unknown. We’ve watched a lot of videos of him but he hit the ball really well, credit to him.”
Earlier, Lucknow were off to a fine start after electing to bat but they stumbled after the powerplay, losing two wickets in two balls to left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (3-20).
Yadav, 29, had missed Delhi’s last two matches due to an injury.
The slow bowler struck to send back Rahul (39 off 22 balls).
Rahul tried to slash the ball which was turning away and a Delhi review confirmed a nick.
Lucknow were tottering at 94-7 in the 13th over but Ayush Badoni top-scored with an unbeaten 35-ball 55 and shared 73 runs for the eighth wicket with Arshad Khan (20 not out) to ensure a fighting total on the board.
It was the first half-century this IPL season for Badoni, who hit one six and five fours.


ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham

ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham
Updated 12 April 2024
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ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham

ICRF concludes participation in SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit in Birmingham
  • Federation was seeking to promote camel sports globally
  • Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, visited pavilion

RIYADH: The International Camel Racing Federation has concluded its participation in the SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit that took place in Birmingham from April 7-11.
The ICRF was seeking to promote camel sports around the world by being present at the event.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the minister of sports and chairman of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, visited the federation’s pavilion on Tuesday, where he received an award that was presented to the SOPC.
Prince Fahad bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz bin Musaed, ICRF’s president and SOPC’s vice president; Dr. Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee; and Robin Mitchell, president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, were present at the award presentation.
Prince Fahad said: “We are pleased with what the federation’s pavilion presented at this summit, which around 1,500 leaders and key decision-makers from over 120 international federations attended.”
Participation at the event helped publicize camel sports which, according to the ICRF’s president, have a large role in Saudi culture and are a big part of the nation’s identity.
Prince Fahad added: “The federation’s goal through this participation was to shed light on the sport of our fathers and ancestors, which Arab countries have known since ancient times until it became part of their societies.”


UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong
Updated 12 April 2024
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UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong

UAE, Oman make winning starts to ACC Premier Cup as Qatar fall to Hong Kong
  • Saudi Arabia’s cricketers will get their bid for Premier Cup glory underway on Saturday when they host Malaysia

LONDON: Oman and the UAE got their Asian Cricket Council Premier Cup campaigns off to winning starts on Friday as they both look to qualify for next year’s Asia Cup.

The Emiratis beat their Gulf rivals Kuwait by seven wickets at Al-Amarat with two and a half overs to spare.

The Kuwaitis notched up 178/8 from their 20 overs, with Clinto Anto top scoring on 54 from 23 balls.

After a shaky start and a golden duck for captain Muhammad Waseem, the UAE were rarely troubled in their quest to chase down 179, with an imperious 90 runs from 48 balls from Alishan Sharafu, ably supported by Asif Khan’s 74 from seven overs, steering them home.

The Omanis, making the most of the Premier Cup competition being played on home soil, saw off Bahrain in a thriller.

Aqib Ilyas top-scored for the hosts with a solid knock of 62 from 53 deliveries as they reached 177 for the loss of three from their 20 overs.

The Bahrainis fell just four runs short of their 178 target as eight wickets fell in their innings.

Also on Friday, Qatar were resoundingly beaten in the other group of the tournament as Hong Kong set a daunting target of 202 for victory.

The Qataris started well, with opener Saqlain Arshad reaching his half-century inside six overs, but they started to lose quick wickets and ended up losing by 26 runs.

Saudi Arabia’s cricketers will get their bid for Premier Cup glory underway on Saturday when they host Malaysia in Al-Amarat.


NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match

NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match
Updated 12 April 2024
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NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match

NUFC stars Trippier, Burn invite youngsters from Newcastle’s deaf community to be mascots for Spurs match
  • Young fans met their football idols who shared the exciting news with them during a kickabout
  • The mascots will wear innovative haptic technology shirts for the game

NEWCASTLE: Several young members of the deaf community in Newcastle were on Friday invited by Newcastle United stars Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn to be mascots during the club’s Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
On Thursday, NUFC’s front-of-shirt sponsor, Sela, said they will introduce the haptic shirts — which allow deaf fans and fans with hearing loss to experience the live atmosphere — during Saturday’s match against Spurs at St. James’ Park. Haptic shirts use a technology that transforms the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensations.
During a visit to meet young fans from the deaf community to invite them to come to the Tottenham game, Burn revealed to the youngsters: “For the Tottenham game you’re all going to be mascots. So, you get to walk out with us in front of the crowd.”


Trippier added: “To walk out in the Royal National Institute for Deaf shirts is special, and we had a good kickabout with the kids as well.”
The youngsters met their football idols at the Newcastle United Foundation where Burn and Trippier shared the exciting news with them during a friendly kickabout.
In addition to acting as mascots, the youngsters will also wear the innovative haptic technology shirts to enhance their matchday experience.
Sela has donated its front-of-shirt sponsorship rights for Saturday’s clash to RNID, a national UK charity that supports 12 million people who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by sela | صلة (@sela)


“The kids were teaching us a goal celebration, so watch out for it. I’ll probably get a few more before the end of the season,” added Burn. The children also taught the players how to sign “love the fans.”
One of the youngsters said: “I was so happy to see Kieran and Dan, it’s the best day of my life.”
Some Newcastle fans will be wearing haptic shirts with the RNID logo for the first time during the Tottenham game, while the branding will be on display around St. James’ Park and on the big screen to raise awareness of the institute’s work.
Teri Devine, associate director of inclusion at RNID, said: “We’re really grateful to Sela and to Newcastle for doing this. It’s absolutely fantastic that the players take time out to come and meet the kids, and actually get to see the barriers that deaf children face.”