New Al-Tai boss Ramos believes dream debut win could boost SPL relegation fight

New Al-Tai boss Ramos believes dream debut win could boost SPL relegation fight
Al-Tai players celebrate vital SPL win over Al-Riyadh (SPL)
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Updated 23 April 2024
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New Al-Tai boss Ramos believes dream debut win could boost SPL relegation fight

New Al-Tai boss Ramos believes dream debut win could boost SPL relegation fight
  • Uruguayan coach, whose side travel to Al-Fayha on Thursday, achieved dramatic last-gasp win over fellow relegation battlers Al-Riyadh at the weekend

RIYADH: Leonardo Ramos, the new Al-Tai manager, believes the club’s victory in his debut match could be vital to secure Roshn Saudi League football next season.

Ramos oversaw a dramatic 2-1 win for the Hail club at 10-man Al-Riyadh on Friday in the capital courtesy of a Khalid Al-Shuwayyi own goal 12 minutes into injury time.

The win lifted Al-Tai, who had gone four games without victory prior to the Uruguayan’s arrival, out of the relegation zone and into 14th place in the 18-team league.

“I know that every player in the team needs to bring his best abilities on the field, so the reason for my presence is my experience in ensuring this happens,” Ramos said. “Certainly, the ultimate goal is to play with greater performances and to improve the level and position of the club in the table. The win benefits this.

“The league is definitely approaching the end faster than I would have liked, but I think we can help the players a lot,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of games before I came here, and game by game we’ll have more vision. We were so happy because this was our first game together — and we are happy to have improved our position in the table. We have gone up in the table and that’s important.”

Al-Tai’s opener on Friday night at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh came from Bernard Mensah in first-half injury time. Al-Riyadh saw Abdullah Al-Khairbari red-carded just after the interval but equalized through Abdulhadi Al-Harajin. This came before Al-Shuwayyi watched in horror as a cross ball trundled into the net off his shoulder deep into stoppage time.

Ramos, 54, who earned eight caps for his country as a player, previously managed Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabian football in 2018 and was most recently in charge of Montevideo City Torque in his home country. He replaced Romanian national Laurentiu Reghecampf as Al-Tai manager.

Next up for Ramos and Al-Tai is a trip to Al-Fayha on Thursday, with kickoff at 6 p.m. The club then conclude their campaign with matches versus Al-Khaleej, Al-Raed, Al-Fateh, Al-Hilal and a final-day-of-the-season clash with fellow relegation battlers Al-Okhdood.

The Roshn Saudi League bottom five spots has Al-Hazem last on 16 points, followed by Al-Okhdood on 24, Abha and Al-Riyadh on 25 — with the former in the drop zone due to a considerably inferior goal difference — and then Al-Tai on 26 points. With the standings so tight, Ramos knows exactly what is needed now.

“For sure we need to continue working on improving performances,” the Uruguayan said. “I believe we played an outstanding match (against Al-Riyadh), although there were times that we lacked the rhythm, team spirit, and overall performance. Most of the time, we played on the sides and at the back, and we did not move progressively enough towards the opponent’s goal.

“However, we showed determination and desire to win, and we made some changes in the second half of the match to improve the result and achieve the victory, which we succeeded in at the end. I am very happy to work with the players, and the club overall, and achieving the victory was a great result.”

 


Dressel, Ledecky line up title defenses at Paris Olympics with US swimming trials victories

Dressel, Ledecky line up title defenses at Paris Olympics with US swimming trials victories
Updated 32 sec ago
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Dressel, Ledecky line up title defenses at Paris Olympics with US swimming trials victories

Dressel, Ledecky line up title defenses at Paris Olympics with US swimming trials victories
  • Dressel wrapped up his emotional return to the US trials, following up his 50m freestyle victory with another win after his lengthy break from the sport
  • In Paris Ledecky will be the favorite to become the first woman in any sport to win Olympic gold in the same event four times

LOS ANGELES: Caeleb Dressel powered to victory in the 100m butterfly at the US Olympic swimming trials to line up another title defense in Paris, where Katie Ledecky will go for a historic fourth straight 800m freestyle gold.

Dressel wrapped up his emotional return to the US trials on Saturday, following up his 50m free victory on Friday with another win after his lengthy break from the sport.

Dressel seized control with his trademark explosive start, led at the wall and won in 50.19sec, with 17-year-old Thomas Heilman second in 50.80.

Heilman had already won the 200m butterfly to become the youngest US male swimmer to book an Olympic berth since 15-year-old Michael Phelps and 17-year-old Aaron Piersol competed at the 2000 Sydney Games.

He flew home in the outside lane one to edge 21-year-old Dare Rose by four-hundredths of a second.

“This is truly the hardest part,” Dressel said of the pressure-cooker US trials, where only the top two finishers in each event can secure an individual Olympic berth.

“It’s tough to make the team here, and that’s how it should be,” said Dressel, who won five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics to confirm his superstar status but abruptly stepped away from the sport in 2022.

“I think I’ve felt every emotion that I’m capable of,” Dressel said of the rollercoaster nine-day trials, held this year in the stunning, potentially intimidating atmosphere of Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

“It’s tough. So really the motto is one stroke at a time. You’ve got to turn the dial on, then turn it off and just when you can go to bed. So I’m happy to be done,” said Dressel, who has been cheered on this week by his wife, Meghan, with their four-month-old son, August, along for the ride.

Ledecky’s fourth victory of the week, in the 800m freestyle, takes her back to where her Olympic journey began, with an upset triumph at the age of 15 in the 2012 London Games.

Ledecky, the world record-holder who owns the top 16 times ever in the event, clocked 8min 14.12sec. As in the 400m free, Paige Madden was second to Ledecky, shattering her personal best with a time of 8:20.71.

In Paris Ledecky will be the favorite to become the first woman in any sport to win Olympic gold in the same event four times.

Michael Phelps the only swimmer to win the same event at four straight Games, the 200m individual medley in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Kate Douglass added an impressive victory in the 200m individual medley in 2min 06.79sec to her 100m free and 200m breaststroke wins this week.

Alex Walsh was second in 2:07.86 and the pair head to Paris aiming to improve on their performances at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, where Walsh took silver and Douglass earned bronze behind Japanese gold medallist Yui Ohashi.

“I feel like the goal coming into this meet was to try and win all three events, but you know, I didn’t really think I was going to be able to achieve that,” Douglass said. “So I’m really happy I did.”

Walsh finally secured her Paris berth on the penultimate night of the trials, joining her sister Gretchen who clocked a world record in the semifinals on the way to winning the 100m fly.

“I didn’t know if I was going to make it to Paris after she made it,” said Alex Walsh, who competed in Tokyo as Gretchen missed out. “This is a dream we’ve been dreaming for so long.”


Shakib blasts Bangladesh’s lack of ‘fight’ at T20 World Cup

Shakib blasts Bangladesh’s lack of ‘fight’ at T20 World Cup
Updated 18 min 20 sec ago
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Shakib blasts Bangladesh’s lack of ‘fight’ at T20 World Cup

Shakib blasts Bangladesh’s lack of ‘fight’ at T20 World Cup
  • Saturday’s mauling was Bangladesh’s second defeat in the Super Eights after an opening loss to Australia
  • Bangladesh stumbled to 146-8 in their 20 overs against India with skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto top scoring with 40

North Sound, Antigua and Barbuda: Veteran Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan hit out at the Tigers’ lack of “fight” after a 50-run rout by India effectively ended their T20 World Cup dreams.
Saturday’s mauling was Bangladesh’s second defeat in the Super Eights after an opening loss to Australia.
“We were always thinking that we came to do something good and we will do it,” said former skipper Shakib who was playing in his 128th T20 international.
“But if you look at the result or the performance on the ground, actually we couldn’t show any fight in that way. It’s disappointing.”
Chasing 197 to win, Bangladesh stumbled to 146-8 in their 20 overs against India with skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto top scoring with 40.
Making runs has been a problem for Bangladesh throughout the tournament with Towhid Hridoy their top run-getter with a modest 139 across six innings.
Shakib was the only player to make a 50 when he hit an undefeated 64 in the first round victory against the Netherlands.
“I don’t know how long it will take,” said the 37-year-old Shakib when asked to put a timeframe on Bangladesh winning a world title.
“When we played with two big teams, who were maybe the closest contenders for the World Cup, our gap with them was clearly visible.
“So, it is disappointing to me that we still have such huge gaps.”
Shakib made his international debut in 2006 and has also played in 67 Tests and 247 one-dayers. He has amassed more than 19,500 runs and taken over 700 wickets.
However, he will not make any hasty decisions on whether he will call time on his Bangladesh career.
“If the team think that they need me, and if I think that I need the team and I am feeling desired in that way then it is a matter of playing for the team,” he said.
“Otherwise, if I am not enjoying then of course, I will not play. When it’s time everyone will come to know about it.”


Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’

Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’
Updated 23 June 2024
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Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’

Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’
  • Whittaker took down the Russian fighter in just 1:46 minutes of the first round
  • Volkov defeated Russian compatriot Pavlovich by unanimous decision

RIYADH: Australian mixed martial arts star Robert Whittaker knocked out Ikram Sabirovich Aliskerov in under 2 minutes of the first round of the middleweight main event of the inaugural UFC "Fight Night" in Riyadh late on Saturday.

Aliskerov was pulled from Saturday’s UFC event in Las Vegas as a last-minute replacement for his compatriot Khamzat Chimaev, who withdrew from the fight due to illness.

Aliskerov was tagged by UFC's CEO and President Dana White as a "legit contender," having been on a seven-game winning streak, and having lost only one of his 16 bouts. His only loss was against Chimaev.

Whittaker started the fight using precision striking to keep Aliskerov at a distance, while Aliskerov countered with powerful takedowns and effective ground control, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

But Whittaker, nicknamed "The Reaper" for sending many opponents down with his famous 1-2-high kick combination, was just too much for him, securing a victory by knockout at 1:49 in the first round, solidifying his status as a leading contender in the division.

"I'm the most dangerous middleweight on the planet. Everyone knows that," Whittaker declared in a press conference after his victory.

In the heavyweight co-main event, Alexander Volkov defeated Russian compatriot Sergei Pavlovich by unanimous decision.

Results of the UFC Saudi Arabia "Fight Night" matches.

Earlier, Kelvin Gastelum beat American compatriot Daniel Rodriguez by unanimous decision in their middle weight division match.

Pavlovich came out aggressively, landing significant strikes early in the fight. However, Volkov showcased impressive endurance and striking accuracy, gradually turning the tide.

In a dramatic third round, Volkov landed a decisive head kick, followed by a series of punches that led to his victory. The crowd erupted in applause, appreciating the skill and tenacity displayed by both fighters.

The undercard featured several emerging talents who seized the opportunity to shine. Felipe Lima, a promising featherweight prospect, delivered a standout performance with a third-round submission victory (rear-naked choke) over Muhammad Naimov. Lima's seamless transition from striking to grappling highlighted his potential as a future star in the division.

In the bantamweight bout, Muin Gafurov impressed the audience with their striking precision and footwork, earning a unanimous decision win against Kyung Ho Kang. The technical mastery displayed by both fighters was a testament to the high level of competition in the UFC.

The fight night witnessed two other knockouts: Shara Magomedov defeated Antonio Trocoli at 2:27 of round three, and Volkan Oezdemir knocked out Johnny Walker at 2:28 of the first round.

The success of UFC Fight Night in Riyadh confirms the growing interest in MMA in the region and sets the stage for future events. UFC President Dana White expressed his excitement about the evening's success and discussed more events to come in the Middle East. "The energy and passion of the fans here in Riyadh have been incredible. We’re thrilled with tonight's success and look forward to bringing more world-class UFC events to this part of the world," White said.

“We sold over 12,000 seats. It’s been good, it was fun coming to this market. I love how passionate Turki AlAsheikh is about the sport,” White said. “In this region now, you see a lot of talents coming from here (Saudi Arabia and the Middle East).”

UFC Fight Night at Kingdom Arena was not just about the fights; it was a celebration of MMA's global reach and cultural significance. The event drew a diverse crowd, including local fans, international visitors, and celebrities from the sports and entertainment worlds. The atmosphere inside Kingdom Arena was electric, with enthusiastic fans cheering for their favorite fighters and savoring each moment of the action-packed night.

The success of UFC Fight Night in Riyadh highlights the growing interest in MMA in the region and sets the stage for future events.

With thrilling fights, standout performances, and an unforgettable atmosphere, the night will be remembered as a significant milestone in UFC history and a testament to the sport's popularity.

 


De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track
Updated 23 June 2024
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De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track
  • All four teams in Group E have three points, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday

COLOGNE, Germany: Kevin De Bruyne scored and Belgium got its European Championship campaign up and running after beating Romania 2-0 on Saturday.
The No. 3-ranked Belgians shook off the shock of losing to Slovakia in their opening game by responding with a dominant performance in front of the Belgium royal family at Cologne Stadium.
Youri Tielemans gave them a flying start with a goal from the edge of the area in the second minute.
De Bruyne effectively killed the game off in the 80th after converting direct from Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels’ long kick.
All four teams in Group E have three points, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday.
While Belgium won, there was more frustration for Romelu Lukaku, who had a third goal ruled out by VAR at these Euros.
Still, he was at the center of his team’s great start when laying the ball off for Tielemans to score with a low drive from the edge of the box.
It was just what Belgium needed after the Slovakia stunner, which raised the prospect of another early exit from a major tournament after being eliminated at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.
The format of the Euros, in which the four best third-place teams advance, leaves more room for error. But with memories of Qatar still fresh, another defeat would have broken the confidence of a team criticized for failing to live up to expectations in the past.
Tielemans’ goal seemed to lift the pressure, and Belgium ruled the rest of the half with 67 percent of possession.
Lukaku thought he scored after the break, but VAR said he strayed offside before firing past Romania keeper Florin Nita.
The longer the game went on without Belgium scoring a second, the more the tension rose.
Dennis Man could have evened the score when running through on goal, but was denied by Casteels.
The keeper then turned provider with a long punt upfield, which De Bruyne raced on to and fired home.
Under former Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, Portugal advanced to the knockout phase after a 3-0 win against Turkiye in Group F. Georgia picked up its first ever point at a major tournament after a drawing the Czech Republic 1-1 and still has hopes of advancing.


UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024

UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024
Updated 22 June 2024
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UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024

UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024
  • The HNS published a statement on its website saying that it will have to pay a fine of $29,900
  • The Croatian federation was fined 87,875 euros

ZAGREB: UEFA have fined the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the incidents that occurred in the stands during Croatia’s 2-2 draw with Albania at Euro 2024, the national federation said on Saturday.
The HNS published a statement on its website saying that it will have to pay a fine of 28,000 euros ($29,900) due to the “lighting of flares and throwing of objects by some Croatian fans during the match played on June 19 in Hamburg.”
“The Croatian Football Federation thanks the Croatian fans for their excellent support and once again calls on them to refrain from lighting and throwing flares,” the statement said.
The HNS was also fined after Croatia’s first match in Group B, which they lost 3-0 to Spain.
The Croatian federation was fined 87,875 euros for fans throwing plastic cups onto the pitch and lighting flares.
Croatia are in danger of a group-stage exit from Euro 2024 after defeat to Spain and Wednesday’s thrilling 2-2 draw in which Albania’s Klaus Gjasula scored at both ends, including a dramatic injury-time equalizer.
Croatia, World Cup semifinalists in 2022, will now likely need to win their final Group B match against holders Italy on Monday to have any hope of reaching the knockout phase of a fifth straight major tournament.