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Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

Asian Cup ready for big kick-off — Arab News predicts what may happen over the next month… LONDON: The UAE get the 18th Asian Cup underway today when they kick-off against Bahrain in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The timing of the tournament, coming six months after the World Cup, could not be better. In Russia last…

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Pakistan coach hits out at pitch after another day of toil against South Africa

Asian Cup ready for big kick-off — Arab News predicts what may happen over the next month…

LONDON: The UAE get the 18th Asian Cup underway today when they kick-off against Bahrain in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The timing of the tournament, coming six months after the World Cup, could not be better. In Russia last summer Asia had five teams competing and the feeling is that Asian football — both in terms of quality and entertainment — is on the up.Here Arab News looks at what might take place over the next month in the Emirates.
THE BIG GUNS
There are as many as five teams who head into the tournament with a reasonable expectation of ultimate glory. Japan are looking to win a record-extending fifth 
title, South Korea hope the form of Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min can power them to glory, Iran are always one of the stronger sides as are Australia and Saudi Arabia (see below) are looking to build on their World Cup experience.Of the remaining four Australia are the ones with the most questions marks hanging over them. Fate has not been kind to the Socceroos and without key men such as Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak (both retired) and Martin Boyle, Daniel Arzani and Aaron Mooy (all injured) it is hard to see them mount a challenge beyond the last-eight.Based on FIFA world rankings Iran, at 36, are the best team in the tournament. Bar friendlies they have only been beaten once in the past four years, troubled both Portugal and Spain in Russia last year and will fancy their chances of ending their 42-year wait for the title.

That leaves the two east Asian powerhouses. Having just missed out on a quarterfinal spot at the World Cup Japan will definitely be challenging for another title, but the Blue Samurai are without some of the more familiar names of the past and new coach Hajime Moriyasu has a new generation to call upon — a lack of experience could cost them.South Korea should coast through their group and from there on will be a team to avoid. They shocked Germany at the World Cup, have one of the best players on the planet at the moment in Son and are unbeaten since last June.
ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: South Korea to win their first title since 1960.
SAUDI ARABIA AND THE OTHER ARAB TEAMS
Time moves fast in football. Just over six months ago the Green Falcons had been embarrassed 5-0 by Russia in the opening match of the World Cup and confidence was low. Two matches later and they had recorded their first win at the tournament, a 2-1 win over Egypt, and all was well with the world.Juan Antonio Pizzi wanted to use that victory as a springboard to a tilt at the Asian Cup title and since then Saudi Arabia have done their best to follow their coach’s instruction.Beaten just once since the World Cup — a 2-0 defeat to Brazil — Pizzi’s players head into the tournament confident on the back of a well-earned draw against favorites South Korea. They should escape their group — North Korea, Lebanon and Qatar — and from then on will back themselves to do some damage.

Of the other Arab nations, the UAE will be the ones most fancied to go far. The hosts, however, come into the tournament with only two wins in the past 12 months and without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman. Much will depend on the form of Ali Mabkhout and Khalfan Mubarak.Of the outsiders Syria and the ones who could make an impact. They came close to making it to last year’s World Cup, losing in the continental playoff to Australia, and approach the tournament confident they can upset a few of the big guns. If Omar 
Al-Soma finds his scoring boots, they could do just that.
ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: Saudi Arabia to make the last four, UAE to be eliminated before the last four, Syria and Iraq to make the quarterfinals.
BIGGEST SHOCK
Australia fail to make the semis. They should make it out of the group but a likely quarterfinal again Japan awaits. The defending champions will crash out early.

 

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Rory McIlroy eyes 3rd Dubai Desert Classic in 2022

FIFA Club World Cup draw puts Al-Hilal on course for semi-final meeting with Chelsea RIYADH: What better test for the most successful team in the history of Asian football than to take on the European champions and, probably the current best team in the world, in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup? Having…

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Rory McIlroy eyes 3rd Dubai Desert Classic in 2022

FIFA Club World Cup draw puts Al-Hilal on course for semi-final meeting with Chelsea

RIYADH: What better test for the most successful team in the history of Asian football than to take on the European champions and, probably the current best team in the world, in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup?

Having claimed a record fourth AFC Champions League title after beating Pohang Steelers 2-0 last week in Riyadh, Al-Hilal are on course to meet Chelsea if they win their second-round match.

Apart from a clash with the English Premier League side in the final, this is the next best thing, and it is very much on the cards in early February after Monday’s draw.

The date is to be confirmed as is the game itself. Al-Hilal will have to overcome the winner of the Feb. 3 clash between New Zealand’s Auckland City and Al-Jazira of the UAE but the prospect of Chelsea lying in wait is an enticing one.

At the moment, the Blues are top of the Premier League and looking very ominous indeed. Thomas Tuchel has turned the London team into a machine and one that many outside Saudi Arabia would expect to dismiss Al-Hilal without much of a thought.

It was always thus. No Asian champion has yet defeated their European equivalent in the FIFA Club World Cup but surely, one day, that is going to happen. With Al-Hilal the best team in Asia at the moment and the tournament taking place in the UAE, there are reasons to be confident.

With attacking players at the level of Bafetimbi Gomis, Moussa Marega, Matheus Pereira, Salem Al-Dawsari, Salman Al-Faraj and others, there is the offensive capability to worry any team in the world. The question is, of course, whether the defense will be able to keep the $130 million Romelu Lukaku and the likes of Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech, and Reece James at bay.

Before that, Al-Jazira will be expected to beat Auckland, especially on home soil.

The Abu Dhabi outfit have a fine record at the Club World Cup. In 2017, they reached the semi-final. That also started with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Auckland and then, Al-Hilal should beware, a victory over the Asian champions, Urawa Reds of Japan. In the semi-final, the Emirati side, incredibly, took the lead against the mighty Real Madrid. It took second half strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to win the game for the most successful club in European history.

The prospect of taking on the Saudi champions is a welcome one for the UAE champs.

Following the draw, Al-Jazira’s Dutch boss Marcel Keizer said: “Our first match against Auckland City will not be easy. We will face a team that depends on physical strength, and we hope to reach the next round.”

Then comes a much bigger occasion. “If we qualify, we will meet Al-Hilal, and it will be a difficult match, especially as it is the champion of Asia and a strong team, but we are ready to play a good match, and it will be an exciting and beautiful confrontation,” he added.

Al-Hilal at least have recent experience in this tournament, finishing in fourth place at the 2019 edition. Gomis scored the only goal of the game against Esperance de Tunis to dump the African champions out. There was a 3-1 loss in the semi-final to South American giants Flamengo, having managed a 1-0 lead at the break thanks to Al-Dawsari.

It was a solid showing but not something to be completely satisfied with. The issue for Asian teams in the Club World Cup is whether it is better to have the glamour tie against the European champions or try to go all the way.

After winning the Asian title, Al-Hilal coach Leonardo Jardim said: “We play every game to win it. We know there will be strong teams in the Club World Cup, and we’ll not be favorites, but our objective will be to win as many matches as possible.”

Just playing the likes of Chelsea should not be the ultimate aim. That has to be to lift the trophy. And that is what former Saudi international Faisal Abu Thaneen was talking about as he reacted to the draw.

He said: “One day, this goal of winning the Club World Cup will be achieved. Raising the ceiling of your ambition and setting lofty goals makes you work hard to make it a tangible reality.”

The ex-Hilal star is right. The Riyadh giants are good enough to be excited at the prospect of playing a competitive match against Chelsea but also good enough to aim past the semi-final to try and go all the way.

At present, Saudi football is flying high in Asia. The Green Falcons are the continent’s in-form team and Al-Hilal have just won a record fourth Asian title. Chelsea may be a tough challenge, but this Saudi powerhouse are no pushovers.

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Formula E and FIA introduce ‘Gen3’ car to push racing boundaries

FIFA Club World Cup draw puts Al-Hilal on course for semi-final meeting with Chelsea RIYADH: What better test for the most successful team in the history of Asian football than to take on the European champions and, probably the current best team in the world, in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup? Having…

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Formula E and FIA introduce ‘Gen3’ car to push racing boundaries

FIFA Club World Cup draw puts Al-Hilal on course for semi-final meeting with Chelsea

RIYADH: What better test for the most successful team in the history of Asian football than to take on the European champions and, probably the current best team in the world, in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup?

Having claimed a record fourth AFC Champions League title after beating Pohang Steelers 2-0 last week in Riyadh, Al-Hilal are on course to meet Chelsea if they win their second-round match.

Apart from a clash with the English Premier League side in the final, this is the next best thing, and it is very much on the cards in early February after Monday’s draw.

The date is to be confirmed as is the game itself. Al-Hilal will have to overcome the winner of the Feb. 3 clash between New Zealand’s Auckland City and Al-Jazira of the UAE but the prospect of Chelsea lying in wait is an enticing one.

At the moment, the Blues are top of the Premier League and looking very ominous indeed. Thomas Tuchel has turned the London team into a machine and one that many outside Saudi Arabia would expect to dismiss Al-Hilal without much of a thought.

It was always thus. No Asian champion has yet defeated their European equivalent in the FIFA Club World Cup but surely, one day, that is going to happen. With Al-Hilal the best team in Asia at the moment and the tournament taking place in the UAE, there are reasons to be confident.

With attacking players at the level of Bafetimbi Gomis, Moussa Marega, Matheus Pereira, Salem Al-Dawsari, Salman Al-Faraj and others, there is the offensive capability to worry any team in the world. The question is, of course, whether the defense will be able to keep the $130 million Romelu Lukaku and the likes of Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech, and Reece James at bay.

Before that, Al-Jazira will be expected to beat Auckland, especially on home soil.

The Abu Dhabi outfit have a fine record at the Club World Cup. In 2017, they reached the semi-final. That also started with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Auckland and then, Al-Hilal should beware, a victory over the Asian champions, Urawa Reds of Japan. In the semi-final, the Emirati side, incredibly, took the lead against the mighty Real Madrid. It took second half strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to win the game for the most successful club in European history.

The prospect of taking on the Saudi champions is a welcome one for the UAE champs.

Following the draw, Al-Jazira’s Dutch boss Marcel Keizer said: “Our first match against Auckland City will not be easy. We will face a team that depends on physical strength, and we hope to reach the next round.”

Then comes a much bigger occasion. “If we qualify, we will meet Al-Hilal, and it will be a difficult match, especially as it is the champion of Asia and a strong team, but we are ready to play a good match, and it will be an exciting and beautiful confrontation,” he added.

Al-Hilal at least have recent experience in this tournament, finishing in fourth place at the 2019 edition. Gomis scored the only goal of the game against Esperance de Tunis to dump the African champions out. There was a 3-1 loss in the semi-final to South American giants Flamengo, having managed a 1-0 lead at the break thanks to Al-Dawsari.

It was a solid showing but not something to be completely satisfied with. The issue for Asian teams in the Club World Cup is whether it is better to have the glamour tie against the European champions or try to go all the way.

After winning the Asian title, Al-Hilal coach Leonardo Jardim said: “We play every game to win it. We know there will be strong teams in the Club World Cup, and we’ll not be favorites, but our objective will be to win as many matches as possible.”

Just playing the likes of Chelsea should not be the ultimate aim. That has to be to lift the trophy. And that is what former Saudi international Faisal Abu Thaneen was talking about as he reacted to the draw.

He said: “One day, this goal of winning the Club World Cup will be achieved. Raising the ceiling of your ambition and setting lofty goals makes you work hard to make it a tangible reality.”

The ex-Hilal star is right. The Riyadh giants are good enough to be excited at the prospect of playing a competitive match against Chelsea but also good enough to aim past the semi-final to try and go all the way.

At present, Saudi football is flying high in Asia. The Green Falcons are the continent’s in-form team and Al-Hilal have just won a record fourth Asian title. Chelsea may be a tough challenge, but this Saudi powerhouse are no pushovers.

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Frank Williams, F1 pioneer who fought adversity to build dominant team

DUBAI: Bahrain Raid Xtreme will run a three-car team at the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January, with its cars powered by a new sustainable fuel. The fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to petrol, as it is made from second-generation biofuel manufactured from agricultural waste and efuels created by…

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Frank Williams, F1 pioneer who fought adversity to build dominant team

DUBAI: Bahrain Raid Xtreme will run a three-car team at the 2022 Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia in January, with its cars powered by a new sustainable fuel.

The fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared to petrol, as it is made from second-generation biofuel manufactured from agricultural waste and efuels created by carbon capture.

The rally starts on Jan. 1, and over two weeks the cars will race 7,500 km across the deserts of Saudi Arabia, starting in Ha’il and finishing in Jeddah, with a mid-event rest day in Riyadh.

By using the fuel, on what is the most demanding motor race in the world, BRX aims to demonstrate that such fuels can be used as an alternative to petrol and diesel in road transport, and immediately make a contribution to fighting climate change.

The team’s regular drivers, nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and two-time Dakar winner, Nani Roma, will be joined by Orlando Terranova as the team enters three Prodrive Hunter T1+ cars.

Experienced Argentinian driver Terranova competed with the BRX team alongside Loeb and Roma at Baja Aragon in Spain in July in the Hunter T1 car, setting two fastest sector times, with Loeb collecting six more out of a possible 11.

All three will be joined by their current co-drivers, with Fabian Lurquin alongside Loeb, Alex Haro with Roma, and Dani Oliveras with Terranova.

The team has already completed extensive testing of the Hunter T1+ in the Gulf region, and will be carrying out further testing in the UAE over the coming weeks focussed on endurance and navigational exercises, before heading to Saudi Arabia for the rally. Both Loeb and Roma have tested the car, while Terranova will get several days in the Hunter during December.

“I have a really good feeling in the new car,” Loeb said. “We have tested in all the different conditions we expect to see on the Dakar. With the new larger tyres, we were able to maintain our speed through the rough and rocky sections with much less risk of punctures. Fabian and I have several more days’ testing where we will spend a lot of our time focussing on navigation, as this will once again be very important in Saudi.”

Meanwhile, BRX team director, David Richards, said: “Our driver line up this year is one of the strongest with the experience of almost 50 Dakar rallies between the three of them. The new Hunter T1+ has proved fast and reliable in testing and the driver/co-driver partnerships are working well, which is so important in the Saudi desert where accurate navigation is so critical.”

T1+ cars run on larger tyres, with increased suspension travel and a wider track. The car now benefits from 37” tyres on 17” rims, with suspension travel increased from 280 mm to 350 mm and the body width increased from 2 m to 2.3 m to accommodate this.

These changes have necessitated a radical redesign of the Hunter, and Prodrive has used this as an opportunity to make further improvements, including a larger windscreen for improved visibility and a refinement of a number of systems throughout the car.

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