We will play with positive mindset to win ACC Premier Cup, says Saudi cricket team

Special We will play with positive mindset to win ACC Premier Cup, says Saudi cricket team
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Saudi Arabia’s cricket team will take part in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup in Oman. (X/@cricketsaudi)
Special We will play with positive mindset to win ACC Premier Cup, says Saudi cricket team
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Saudi Arabia’s cricket team will take part in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup in Oman. (X/@cricketsaudi)
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Updated 04 April 2024
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We will play with positive mindset to win ACC Premier Cup, says Saudi cricket team

We will play with positive mindset to win ACC Premier Cup, says Saudi cricket team
  • National squad completes final preparations for competition to be held from April 12-21 in Oman
  • Saudi will play their first match on Sat., Apr. 13, against Malaysia at Al-Amerat Cricket Ground

RIYADH: After winning the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup this year and the inaugural event last year in Bangkok, Saudi Arabia’s cricket team exuded confidence on Thursday, saying a positive mindset will give them an advantage in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup beginning next week in Oman.

The team will leave on Monday to participate in the competition, an integral part of the Asian Cricket Council’s new pathway structure that will be held from April 12-21 in Muscat.

Team Captain Hisham Sheikh told Arab News: “Our back-to-back qualification for the ACC Men’s Premier Cup after winning the two ACC Challenger Cups boost our confidence. The boys are excited and ready to play as a unit, and a great team effort with positive mindset makes our chance bright to win the trophy this year.”

A training camp in Riyadh and Dammam allowed all players from the various regions to take part in sessions organized by the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation under the supervision of head coach Kabir Khan, Sheikh said.

“The boys are excited to play as a team, and are looking forward to winning the trophy and qualifying for the Asia Cup. The preparation camp has been the best so far, so let’s hope for the best. We underwent four to five hours of training every night after the Taraweeh prayers during this Ramadan season.”        

Vice Captain Abdul Waheed said that the “men in green will be aiming to improve on their performance as a team in the next stage of Asia Cup qualification.”

Ten associate nations will battle it out for the title in two groups, five in each group playing against other four teams, with the winner directly qualifying for the next Men’s Asia Cup.

“To all the cricket fans, only 10-days left until the ACC Men’s Premier Cup bowls you over with cricket madness. Get ready to cheer your heart out,” tweeted the ACC on Tuesday.

The Saudi team will play their first match on Saturday, April 13, against Malaysia at Al-Amerat Cricket Ground, Oman Cricket (Ministry Turf 2).

They will play other group matches on Sunday, April 14, against Hong Kong, on Tuesday, April 16, against Qatar, and on Wednesday, April 17, against Nepal.

Semifinals will be played on Friday, April 19, a match for third place on Saturday, April 20, and the final on Sunday, April 21, 2024.

The ACC Men’s Premier Cup 2024 is the second edition of the ACC Premier Cup, with the first played last year in Nepal. The competition will serve as the final stage of qualification for the Asia Cup 2025. It features the eight highest-ranked ACC associate members, as well as the two finalists from ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2024.

Saudi Arabia and Cambodia qualified for the tournament after finishing as the top two teams in the ACC Men’s Challenger Cup 2024 won by the Kingdom for the second year in row. Nepal are the defending champions of the Premier Cup, having won the inaugural season in 2023 beating the UAE in the final.


800 athletes from 45 nations set for IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi

800 athletes from 45 nations set for IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi
Updated 8 sec ago
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800 athletes from 45 nations set for IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi

800 athletes from 45 nations set for IMMAF Youth World Championships in Abu Dhabi
  • The event will run from Aug. 6-10 at Mubadala Arena in Zayed Sports City

ABU DHABI: Preparations are well underway for the 2024 IMMAF Youth World Championships from Aug. 6 to 10 at Zayed Sports City, the organizing committee has announced.

The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation championship, to feature 800 athletes from 45 countries, will be held in the UAE capital for the third consecutive year.

In 2021, the tournament attracted 331 athletes from 23 countries, and in 2022 featured 500 competitors from 42 countries. Last year there were 700 male and female athletes from 45 countries.

The next generation of MMA athletes will compete in three age categories: 12 to 13 (Youth C), 14 to 15 (Youth B), and 16 to 17 (Youth A).

In 2022, the UAE National Team debuted in the championship with 28 athletes, winning one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals.

Last year, the UAE team comprised 40 athletes and clinched four gold, four silver, and four bronze medals. Fahad Al-Hammadi (Youth A/70.3 kg division), Ghala Al-Hammadi (Youth B/40 kg division), Saif Alblooshi (Youth C/40 kg division), and Zamzam Al-Hammadi (Youth B/52 kg division) were among the gold medalists for the hosts.

This year, the team comprises 50 athletes who will undergo intensive training over the next few weeks to enhance their mental and physical readiness under the guidance of international coaches.

The IMMAF’s President Kerrith Brown said recently he was looking forward to the championships. “Returning to Abu Dhabi is always a pleasure for us. The level of commitment of the entire team is truly inspiring and we are happy to report another record-breaking attendance number for this year.

“We are excited to continue to build a safe pathway for youngsters to develop as athletes and human beings and everyone can expect increased efforts from the IMMAF to continue making safeguarding a priority as we expand our youth tournaments around the globe.”

Mohammed bin Dalmouk Al-Dhaheri, board member of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts Federation and chairman of the body’s Mixed Martial Arts Committee, said the UAE was honored to host the event.

“With less than two months remaining until the largest event that MMA fans worldwide look forward to, we are working hard to ensure that this edition comes out in the best possible way. The previous two editions saw great success and contributed to solidifying Abu Dhabi’s status as a much sought-after destination for major sporting events,” Al-Dhaheri said.


Afghanistan beat Bangladesh to reach T20 last four, Australia eliminated

Afghanistan beat Bangladesh to reach T20 last four, Australia eliminated
Updated 34 min 5 sec ago
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Afghanistan beat Bangladesh to reach T20 last four, Australia eliminated

Afghanistan beat Bangladesh to reach T20 last four, Australia eliminated
  • Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in dramatic eight-run victory in rain-affected clash in St. Vincent
  • Afghanistan will now face South Africa in first T20 World Cup semifinal in Trinidad on Wednesday 

Arnos Vale, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Afghanistan advanced to their first-ever T20 World Cup semifinal after completing a dramatic eight-run victory over Bangladesh in a rain-affected clash at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St. Vincent on Monday.

Defending a modest total of 115 for five on a bowler-friendly surface, Afghan captain Rashid Khan belied three rain stoppages, a slippery ball and a revised target of 114 off 19 overs to take four for 23 as Bangladesh, who themselves harbored faint hopes of making the last four, were dismissed for 105 off 17.5 overs.

An unbeaten 54 from opener Litton Das was threatening to take Bangladesh to victory and earn Australia the last semifinal spot on net run-rate.

But pacer Naveen ul Haq claimed the last two wickets — Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman — off consecutive deliveries in the penultimate over of the match to trigger delirious Afghan celebrations.

With India defeating Australia earlier in the day and advancing to the second semifinal against England in Guyana on Thursday, this result assured the Afghans of second spot in the group and eliminated the Aussies together with the Bangladeshis.

Afghanistan will now face South Africa in the first semifinal in Trinidad on Wednesday.


Rodriguez steers Colombia past Paraguay at Copa America

Rodriguez steers Colombia past Paraguay at Copa America
Updated 25 June 2024
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Rodriguez steers Colombia past Paraguay at Copa America

Rodriguez steers Colombia past Paraguay at Copa America
  • Colombia play Costa Rica in their second group game of the tournament on Friday, before wrapping up their first round campaign against Brazil on July 2

HOUSTON: James Rodriguez rolled back the years with a vintage performance to help Colombia open their Copa America campaign with a 2-1 victory over Paraguay in Houston on Monday.
Rodriguez, whose club career has languished in the decade since he rose to prominence with a dazzling performance at the 2014 World Cup, created both of his team’s goals in a deserved Group D victory at the NRG Stadium.
The 32-year-old midfielder, who has played just a handful of minutes for Brazilian club Sao Paulo in the two months leading into the Copa America, set up the opening goal for Colombia in the 32nd minute.
After finding space on the left flank, Rodriguez flighted a pinpoint cross to the far post to pick out Daniel Munoz, who beat Paraguay goalkeeper Rodrigo Morinigo with a firm downward header to make it 1-0.
Ten minutes later Colombia doubled their lead and again it was a goal engineered by the trusty left boot of Rodriguez.
This time the goal arrived from the opposite flank, with Rodriguez swinging in a wicked free-kick that was glanced in by Crystal Palace midfielder Jefferson Lerma.
That made it 2-0 at half-time to leave Colombia firmly on course to extend their unbeaten streak to 24 games.
Colombia continued to carve out the better chances in the second half, but Paraguay set up a nervy finish after Brighton and Hove Albion’s Julio Enciso pulled one back in the 69th minute.
Ramon Sosa crossed from the left and Enciso punished slack marking in the Colombia area to hook an angled first-time volley into the bottom corner past Camilo Vargas.
Colombia, however, controlled play after the Paraguay goal and looked the more threatening team.
The Colombians thought they had earned a penalty in the 84th minute when another teasing Rodriguez cross into the box ended with defender Yerry Mina appearing to be hauled down by Gustavo Velazquez.
Argentinian referee Dario Herrera pointed to the spot but subsequently overturned the decision after a VAR review.
Colombia play Costa Rica in their second group game of the tournament on Friday, before wrapping up their first round campaign against Brazil on July 2.
Brazil open their Copa America campaign against the Costa Ricans in Inglewood, California, later on Monday.


Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo

Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo
Updated 25 June 2024
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Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo

Zaccagni rescues Italy leaving Croatia in Euro 2024 limbo

LEIPZIG, Germany: Mattia Zaccagni’s superb last-gasp strike fired Italy into the Euro 2024 knock-outs with a 1-1 draw against Croatia in a fraught Group B clash on Monday.

Italy progress in second place behind winners Spain and will face Switzerland in the last 16, while Croatia are on the verge of elimination but could still progress depending on other results later in the week.

With only two points it is unlikely Zlatko Dalic’s side will qualify as one of the four best third-place teams but it is still possible.

Croatia midfielder Luka Modric became the oldest goalscorer in the competition’s history with his strike after 55 minutes, just 33 seconds after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the 38-year-old’s penalty.

It seemed enough for his team but Zaccagni whipped a brilliant strike into the top corner on the break in the 98th minute to send Italy through from what was dubbed a “group of death.”

After shipping five goals in the first two games, Dalic opted to shore up the midfield by bringing in Mario Pasalic and Luka Sucic amid four changes.

The coach also kept established trio of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic despite their struggles in the 3-0 defeat by Spain and 2-2 draw against minnows Albania.

Luciano Spalletti’s Italy beat Albania 2-1 but were dominated by Spain in a 1-0 defeat and the coach shifted to a 3-5-2 formation, dropping Juventus’ Federico Chiesa.

Croatia dominated the opening exchanges against a defensive Italy side knowing a draw would send them through in second place behind group winners Spain.

On his first start at the tournament 21-year-old RB Salzburg midfielder Sucic forced a fine early save from Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma with a vicious drive from range.

Azzurri forward Mateo Retegui’s header was deflected narrowly wide at the other end on a rare forray forward, with the two-time winners happy to slow the game down and waste time at corners and throw-ins as early as the 20th minute.

Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made a stunning stop to thwart Alessandro Bastoni, found by Nicolo Barella’s tempting cross, as the holders gained control without taking risks.

Dalic, who steered Croatia to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup final and semis respectively, threw on powerful striker Ante Budimir for the second half.

It gave his team a focal point and they looked instantly more threatening and swiftly reaped their reward.

Italy substitute Davide Frattesi handled Andrej Kramaric’s effort and after a VAR review Croatia were given a penalty.

Donnarumma clawed out Real Madrid midfielder Modric’s effort but the veteran could not be denied 33 seconds later.

The Italian goalkeeper made another fine save in the aftermath from Budimir as Croatia kept the pressure up and Modric smashed home the rebound from close range.

He beat the previous record for oldest Euros goalscorer set in 2008 by Austrian Ivica Vastic by 32 days.

Modric was replaced with 10 minutes to go and even some Italy supporters afforded the playmaker an ovation, while they nervously eyed the ever-advancing clock.

Croatia thought they had progressed but Zaccagni broke their hearts in the eighth and final minute of stoppage time.


Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out

Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out
Updated 25 June 2024
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Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out

Spain complete perfect Euro 2024 group stage as Albania go out
  • It is the first time since 2008 that Spain have won all three group games at either a World Cup or European Championship

DÜSSELDORF, Germany: An early Ferran Torres strike gave Spain’s second-string side a 1-0 win over Albania on Monday as the three-time champions finished the Euro 2024 group stage with a perfect record and the defeat eliminated their opponents.
Barcelona winger Torres finished off a fine move in the 13th minute in Duesseldorf to puncture the atmosphere in a stadium filled with a majority of noisy Albanian fans.
However, this game was not a cruise for a Spain team showing 10 changes to the side which started their 1-0 win over Italy four days earlier.
Spain had already secured top spot in Group B, but Albania knew they realistically needed a win to go through and that made for a frantic encounter at times, particularly as they pushed forward in the second half.
Despite their best efforts, Albania go home after picking up only one point and finishing bottom of a difficult section.
It is a regression for them from their debut European Championship appearance in 2016, when they also went out in the first round but did manage to win a game.
Beating a Spain side who have probably been the most impressive so far in Germany was always going to be a big ask for Albania, coached by former Barcelona left-back Sylvinho.
It is the first time since 2008 that Spain have won all three group games at either a World Cup or European Championship.
Coach Luis de la Fuente can now turn his full attentions to a last-16 tie in Cologne on Sunday against an as-yet unknown third-place finisher.
Center-half Aymeric Laporte was the only Spain player to keep his place following the Italy game, with key midfielder Rodri suspended and everyone else given a breather.
Goalkeeper David Raya, defender Dani Vivian, left-back Alejandro Grimaldo and midfielder Martin Zubimendi, all largely untested at international level, came in.
There was also a start for Jesus Navas, who was part of the Spain teams that won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, and who is now 38.
Even Laporte was removed at half-time, replaced by Robin Le Normand, while Lamine Yamal and Alvaro Morata also appeared in the second half.
Albania, ranked 66th in the world, knew it would be a big ask to beat Spain having lost all of their eight previous meetings.
Spain first threatened in the 12th minute when Mikel Merino’s header was saved by goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, and a minute later they were ahead.
Dani Olmo stepped into the space between the Albanian lines to receive a pass, and then fed a measured ball in behind for Torres to latch onto.
The former Manchester City player timed his run perfectly and finished with precision too, his first-time effort going in off the far post.
Torres has made a habit of scoring at these tournaments, having netted twice at the last Euros and twice at the 2022 World Cup.
It took Albania until the final minute of the half to test Raya, the Arsenal shot-stopper flying to his right to parry a powerful strike by Kristjan Asllani.
Joselu hooked a Grimaldo cross just wide moments after the restart for Spain, before the Albanian fans raised the noise levels as they became aware of events in the other match.
They were very close to equalising when substitute Armando Broja met an Asllani free-kick and tried to lob Raya, but the goalkeeper saved.
Asllani then fizzed an effort just wide, and Broja was again denied by Raya in stoppage time as Albania bowed out.