Japan-North Korea women’s Olympic football qualifier moved to Saudi Arabia

Japan-North Korea women’s Olympic football qualifier moved to Saudi Arabia
The first of two Olympic qualifying games between Japan and North Korea in women’s football has been moved to Jeddah, the Asian Football Confederation has announced. (AP)
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Updated 20 February 2024
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Japan-North Korea women’s Olympic football qualifier moved to Saudi Arabia

Japan-North Korea women’s Olympic football qualifier moved to Saudi Arabia
  • Japanese officials say there are too few flights to North Korea for its fans
  • Match to be played on Saturday in Saudi Arabia

TOKYO: The first of two Olympic qualifying games between Japan and North Korea in women’s football, to determine a berth in this year’s Paris Olympics, has been moved from North Korea to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the Asian Football Confederation has announced.
The governing body of football in Asia moved the match after Japanese officials said there were too few flights to North Korea for its fans.
The match is to be played on Saturday in Saudi Arabia with the game in Tokyo set for Feb. 28.
The top team over the two matches will secure an Olympic berth. The other Olympic berth from Asia will go to either Australia or Uzbekistan. Only 12 teams advance to the Olympics in women’s football.


Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224

Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224
Updated 18 sec ago
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Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224

Buttler ton powers Rajasthan to record IPL chase of 224
  • Chasing 224 for victory, Rajasthan looked in trouble at 121-6 in the 13th over but Buttler moved through the gears in his 60-ball blitz to achieve the target
  • Narine hammered 109 off 56 balls to guide Kolkata, who stay second in the 10-team standings, to 223-6
KOLKATA: Jos Buttler smashed an unbeaten 107 to trump Sunil Narine’s first T20 century as Rajasthan Royals pulled off a joint record IPL chase against Kolkata Knight Riders off the final ball on Tuesday.
Chasing 224 for victory, Rajasthan looked in trouble at 121-6 in the 13th over but Buttler moved through the gears in his 60-ball blitz to achieve the target with two wickets to spare at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
Rajasthan equalled their own record from 2020 when they chased down 224 against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah.
Buttler, who came in as an impact substitute, reached his second ton of the season in 55 balls with a six off Varun Chakravarthy at the start of the last over.
Buttler, struggling with cramp, then played out three dot balls before a two and a single on the final delivery ensured Rajasthan held on to top spot in the table with six wins in seven matches.
England’s Buttler, who hit nine fours and six sixes, moved ahead of Chris Gayle with seven IPL tons and is only behind Virat Kohli’s eight in the T20 tournament.
Buttler built key partnerships including 50 runs with Riyan Parag (34), 57 with Rovman Powell (26) and then an unbeaten 38-run stand with Avesh Khan (0 not out).
Spinners Narine, Chakravarthy and fast bowler Harshit Rana took two wickets each for KKR.
Narine hammered 109 off 56 balls to guide Kolkata, who stay second in the 10-team standings, to 223-6.
Narine put on 85 runs for the second wicket with Angkrish Raghuvanshi, who hit 30, and got together for a 51-run stand with Andre Russell.
Narine, playing his 504th T20 match, reached his ton from 49 balls with a six and a four off Yuzvendra Chahal for Kolkata’s third hundred in the IPL as he jumped for joy.
He was finally bowled by a Trent Boult yorker before he returned to a standing ovation.
Narine moved into the top three in the batting charts led by Royal Challengers Benguluru’s Kohli (361) with 276 runs.
Rinku Singh finished off the innings on a high with his unbeaten nine-ball 20 including a four and two sixes.

Saudi Arabia’s ACC Premier Cup semifinal chances hinge on beating Nepal after Qatar loss

Saudi Arabia’s ACC Premier Cup semifinal chances hinge on beating Nepal after Qatar loss
Updated 35 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s ACC Premier Cup semifinal chances hinge on beating Nepal after Qatar loss

Saudi Arabia’s ACC Premier Cup semifinal chances hinge on beating Nepal after Qatar loss
  • Victory for Saudi Arabia would most probably have mean progression to the semifinals and a shot at glory

AL-AMARAT: The day dawned in cloudy fashion but with no rain. Only two matches were scheduled for day five, both on Turf One. The first was a crunch match between Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Group A. Both teams were on two points, Saudi from two matches played and Qatar from three.

Victory for Qatar would move them into second place with a chance of reaching the semifinals. Victory for Saudi would most probably mean progression to the semifinals. There was much at stake.

Saudi chose to bowl first. Qatar got away to a quick start: 14 from the first over and 36 in four overs before the first wicket fell. The last ball of the ninth over brought a third wicket for 59, a situation with which Saudi would not have been unhappy.

They were less happy in the 11th over when they thought they had claimed a catch at long-on only for the delivery to be ruled a no-ball. Then, in the same over, an appeal for a run out was rejected.

After these two critical incidents, Mohammad Tanveer and Mohammad Jabir consolidated the innings until Tanveer was run out for 43 on 134 in the 17th over. In a desperate search for more runs, Qatar’s lower order swung the bat, wickets falling regularly until the innings closed on 153 for nine.

If this target looked achievable, it soon became a mountain to climb. Left-arm quick bowler Amir Farooq induced prolific opener Abdul Waheed to edge to the wicket keeper off the first ball of the innings.

Worse followed for Saudi in the second over when Faisal Khan was bowled by Gayan Munaweera. Saudi’s batsmen were at sea against two quick left-arm bowlers, the ball hitting the pads with regularity: A sign that the bowler is too quick for the batsman.

It was not a surprise when Usman Khalid was bowled by Munaweera in the fourth over, the score 16 for three. Munaweera was replaced for the sixth over by Jabir. If this seemed a surprise, the decision was justified when Jabir’s first ball had Manan Ali leg before wicket, sparking scenes of wild celebration.

At 18 for four, Saudi’s response was in tatters. The battle between bat and ball had been fascinating to watch. It did not relent and the normal fluency of Saudi’s captain, Hisham Shaikh, was disrupted.

In the seven overs after the last dismissal the Saudi batsmen scored only 43 runs as they sought to rebuild the innings. As soon as Shaikh sought to accelerate in the 14th over, he was out.

At 69 for five, the innings looked beyond repair. However, Kashif Abbas hit two sixes to give hope before aiming to hit one too many. Waji Ul Hassan continued the trend so well that 35 runs were required from the final two overs.

It was not to be, as Hassan perished in trying to clear the boundary once more. The remaining batsmen could not force the pace against Munaweera, the innings closing on 138 for eight, 15 runs short, much to the disappointment of the Saudi contingent.

It had been a brave rearguard effort, but the real damage had been done in losing the first four wickets so cheaply.

Qatar climbed into second place on four points, leaving Saudi, Malaysia and Hong Kong on two points each. Saudi does have a superior run rate, but to make use of this, the side must beat Nepal in their final game — a tall order.

Malaysia and Hong Kong will play each other, the winner will end on four points, with net run rate likely to be a determining factor in deciding who finishes second.

In Group B, Bahrain beat Cambodia by seven wickets to claim their first victory, leaving Cambodia without a point, a situation which may not change given they play the UAE on day six.

All eyes will be on the match between Kuwait and Oman, a match the former must win to progress. Kuwait sits in second place, ahead of the UAE by virtue of a superior net run rate. The UAE are favorites to progress to the semifinal.


Bangladesh name Pakistan’s Mushtaq as new spin coach

Bangladesh name Pakistan’s Mushtaq as new spin coach
Updated 16 April 2024
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Bangladesh name Pakistan’s Mushtaq as new spin coach

Bangladesh name Pakistan’s Mushtaq as new spin coach
  • Mushtaq Ahmed is a former Pakistan leg spinner and 1992 World Cup winner 
  • Ahmed will work with Bangladesh until the end of T20 World Cup in US, West Indies

DHAKA: Bangladesh named former Pakistan leg-spinner and World Cup winner Mushtaq Ahmed on Tuesday as the spin-bowling coach for the men’s national cricket team.
Mushtaq will join the side before a preparation camp for next month’s five-match Twenty20 international series against Zimbabwe and will work with the Bangladesh team until the end of the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States.
Bangladesh has been in the hunt for a spin-bowling coach since Sri Lankan Rangana Herath left in November. Local coach Sohel Islam filled in during the recent series against Sri Lanka.
Mushtaq was spin coach with England from 2008-14, the West Indies in 2018-19 and Pakistan from 2020-2022.
He was also Pakistan’s bowling consultant between 2014 and 2016.
“It is a great honor for me to be a part of the Bangladesh cricket team as a spin-bowling coach,” 53-year-old Mushtaq said.
“I am looking forward to the role and want to pass my experience to the players because they are very coachable and I always believe that they are one of the most dangerous teams around.
“They can beat anyone because they have the capability, the resources and the talent. I will try to instill that belief into them,” he said.
Bangladesh will host Zimbabwe for five T20s from May 3-12 before traveling to the United States for a three-match series against the hosts and the T20 World Cup.


Strong field assembled for 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF

Strong field assembled for 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF
Updated 16 April 2024
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Strong field assembled for 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF

Strong field assembled for 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF
  • Peter Uihlein, who plays for LIV Golf team RangeGoats GC, is making his first visit to Riyadh and expressed his excitement at playing in the Saudi capital
  • Haotong Li: I want to see different golf courses to the ones I have played previously and to visit new parts of the world

RIYADH: A strong field has assembled for the 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF, commencing tomorrow, April 17, with Asian Tour, LIV Golf and DP World Tour stars teeing off at Riyadh Golf Club.

Thai star Denwit Boriboonsub won the 2023 Saudi Open in December in stunning fashion, but Henrik Stenson, Peter Uihlien and Haotong Li are the standout names hoping to dethrone him, as 144 players from 33 different countries fight for glory from 17-20 April.

There are 20 Arab golfers from eight nations in the field, including seven from Saudi Arabia, who have all been handed the opportunity to compete alongside some of the world’s best players as golf continues to develop in the region. Golf&More will be on display at the course throughout the week with live DJ sessions at sunset, special activities for children and the authentic Sajah Bazaar giving fans the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture.

Peter Uihlein, who plays for LIV Golf team RangeGoats GC, is making his first visit to Riyadh and expressed his excitement at playing in the Saudi capital. The American believes it will be an action-packed four rounds, filled with low scores and plenty of birdies.

Uihlein said: “I watched the 2023 Saudi Open on TV in December and the Aramco Series Ladies International recently and I saw a lot of low scores, so I am hoping for a tournament full of birdies. It does depend how much the wind blows, but hopefully it dies down later in the week. 

“It’s my first time in Riyadh, having been to Jeddah a few times, and I’m excited about it. I spoke to Othman [Almulla] about how many courses are planned and the ones they are already building around the Kingdom. It is really cool to be here.

“I feel like the stuff I am working on is getting better and better, and I feel a little bit sharper as the weeks go on. It is why I’m here - to carry on working on my game ahead of LIV Adelaide and LIV Singapore.”

Chinese sensation Haotong Li is a four-time DP World Tour winner and has chosen to play in the 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF to experience the continued growth of the game in the Kingdom.

Li said: “I want to see different golf courses to the ones I have played previously and to visit new parts of the world. It’s extremely exciting to play this week and do something special. I am truly honoured to be here and be a part of growing the game as big as possible. Hopefully everybody starts to fall in love with golf.

Golf Saudi CEO Noah Alireza spoke to gathered media ahead of the tournament and he stressed the importance of the 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF’s commitment to handing opportunities to national and regional players.

Alireza said: “We are delighted to welcome a strong field to the 2024 Saudi Open presented by PIF following its first staging on the Asian Tour last year and I am certain that this week will prove a success with exciting golf on show at Riyadh Golf Club.

“The opportunity that the Saudi Open presents to all of the competitors, but particularly to the seven Saudi nationals and the 13 other Arab golfers in the field, is one of the main driving forces behind our desire to host this tournament in Riyadh. Playing alongside the best Asian Tour players, plus a number of LIV Golf and DP World Tour members, helps them understand what it takes to reach this level and is a vital part of their golf education. It is a key part of Golf Saudi’s commitment to golf in our country.”


Wife of British cyclist in Islamophobic social media rant

Wife of British cyclist in Islamophobic social media rant
Updated 16 April 2024
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Wife of British cyclist in Islamophobic social media rant

Wife of British cyclist in Islamophobic social media rant
  • Michelle Froome: ‘There are no innocent Gazans,’ Muslims a ‘drain on modern society’
  • Husband Chris Froome rides for Israel-Premier Tech cycling team

LONDON: The wife of a former Tour de France-winning cyclist has caused controversy in the UK following an Islamophobic outburst on social media.

Michelle Froome, wife of Chris Froome, said on her X profile on Monday that there are “no innocent Gazans” and called Muslims a “drain on modern society.”

In her first posts on the platform since 2020, she told her 15,000 followers that she is “sick of sitting idly by quietly supporting Israel while the Hamas propaganda takes over social media.”

Her husband, who won four Tours de France and was an Olympian for Team GB, is a member of the Israel-Premier Tech cycling team.

While not directly affiliated with the Israeli state, it has strong ties to the country through billionaire owners Sylvan Adams and Ron Baron.

Earlier this year, the team dropped “Israel” from its vehicles for security reasons. In recent weeks, pro-Palestinian activists have called for the team to be confronted with “more protests than ever” ahead of the upcoming Giro d’Italia race in May.

In a 13-post diatribe, Michelle Froome said: “The silent majority needs to stand up and be heard. We don’t want your religion, we don’t want your beliefs. It is not compatible with modern civilisation … There are no innocent Gazans.”

She added: “Muslims are no longer the minority they claim to be. They are here to take over. The UK, France, they are happy to claim the benefits but will not integrate into those communities. They will continue to TAKE what suits them. They are a drain on modern society.

“It’s time people stop pandering to the political correctness. It’s all a facade. They burned babies alive. They deserve no remorse what so ever. This is just the beginning. WAKE UP.”

Israel’s war on Gaza recently entered its sixth month, with over 34,000 Palestinians having been killed so far.