LONDON: Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Saudi Arabia side showed a ruthless professionalism in dispatching Lebanon at the weekend, and the Argentine coach urged the Green Falcons to avoid taking their foot off the gas as they look to finish the group stages with a 100 percent record.Speaking after Fahad Al-Muwallad and Housain Al-Moqahwi sealed a 2-0 win over the Cedars — which sent Saudi Arabia into the Asian Cup last-16 — Pizzi praised his team and the impact of Hatan Bahbri in particular.“Hatan (Bahbri) is actually doing very, very well and playing at a very good level,” the Argentine said of the Al-Shabbab midfielder.“He was not with us during the first training camp due to injury, but joined us for the second, where he showed his dedication, concentration and effort.”Bahbri, who scored his first international goal for the Green Falcons in their group opener against North Korea, was instrumental in Saudi Arabia’s second goal against Lebanon — delivering a pinpoint cross into the box for Al-Moqahwi to slot the ball into the net.“He is a player you would like to have in your team because of his qualities, but I hope he will not be relaxed at the level he has reached because he can reach further than this.“He has many chances to be better. I wouldn’t say he is the best, but he is definitely among our best players,” Pizzi said.Pizzi also paid tribute to the rest of his players for the well-deserved victory.“The players committed to the tactics and strategy,” he said.“Individually, each player did their job perfectly. I’m very happy with their performance and the result.”Saudi Arabia face Qatar in their final group game as Pizzi’s charges look to top the group and orchestrate an easier route to the final. But the Argentine said each game will pose a threat to his team.“As time goes by, the matches become more difficult because the other teams are well acquainted with our team and how we play, which is normal, but we will certainly be well prepared for each match,” he said.“We have five days to work on the next game, and all the players in the the squad are fully prepared and ready for that.”Saudi Football Federation President Qusay Al-Fawaz also complimented Pizzi and his side’s organization, mental toughness and efforts in qualifying for the knockout stage a game early.“We will treat this game as a win and only three points, and the team will be ready to prepare for the next confrontation, according to our strategy to continue the tournament,” Al-Fawaz said.Meanwhile, defeat for Lebanon leaves their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage hanging by a thread. They must now win their final group match against North Korea on Thursday to stand any chance of progressing as one of the best four third-placed teams.Head coach Miodrag Radulovic commended Saudi Arabia for their victory but rued his side’s missed opportunities.“I want to congratulate Saudi Arabia for the victory, they deserved to win, but also, I’m a little bit disappointed with losing two clean chances in the first half. When you don’t score, you can’t achieve a positive result,” said Radulovic.“We didn’t use our chances, my players should learn from these games but I’m not disappointed with their performance, just on missing the two chances.“For my team now, it’s very important to have a good rest and recover, and to try to win the last game. I think it will be enough to (reach) the next round.”
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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…
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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NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United Boss Eddie Howe believes that the club’s league position will be the main obstacle to overcome when attempting to attract players in January — not the location of the city. However, the head coach said that his focus is not on the winter transfer window. Instead, he remains fixed on getting the…
NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United Boss Eddie Howe believes that the club’s league position will be the main obstacle to overcome when attempting to attract players in January — not the location of the city.
However, the head coach said that his focus is not on the winter transfer window. Instead, he remains fixed on getting the best out of his current group and kick-starting their Premier League campaign.
Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor claimed on the radio this week that players would rather sign for newly promoted Brentford for less money than go to United, because “no one wants to live in Newcastle.”
But Howe said that this could not be further from the truth.
“That is not accurate,” said Howe, whose bottom of the pile Magpies take on 19th-placed Norwich City at St James’ Park tomorrow evening. “I have not seen Newcastle in the light yet, but I have only heard amazing things about it as a place to live and the town centre.
“We will have no problem attracting players to Newcastle for a whole host of reasons,” he added. “I don’t think that is going to be an issue, but what I do think will be an issue is our league position.
“That is not my focus at the moment, it is preparing the team for a big week ahead.”
When pressed, Howe revealed that he does have “one eye” on trading in January, but cannot lose track of the gravity of the task on hand, with United winless in their opening 13 games.
“We have half an eye on January and that is the same for me no matter what time of year,” Howe said. “As a manager, you are always thinking about how you can evolve your team and improve your squad.”
“Trust me when I say, my main focus is trying to get the best out of the players we have here and our next game and the games beyond.
“I am working extremely hard to make sure they produce their best performances — and I think that is the best use of my time at the moment.
“It has been a very busy time. It has been a very busy few days for us. We are looking forward to the challenges of this week.”
Only Derby County in 2000-01 have ever worked their way to Premier League safety from a winless run as long as United’s at the start of a top-flight season.
And this week — in which United take on the Canaries and fellow strugglers Burnley on home turf — feels like a crucial junction in their survival fight.
Howe said: “We are aware of how important these games are, but it is a dangerous thing to look too far ahead.
“You just have to look, firstly, training then the game tomorrow. It is always a step-by-step process,” he added. “The moment you start looking too far ahead, you can take your eyes off the priorities — and the priorities are the players and being in the best shape we can for the next game.”
Howe’s tenure has opened up with a home draw against Brentford and a predictable loss at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday against Arsenal.
And while the Magpies’ points tally has only been improved by one in that time, Howe has seen positives upon which to build.
“Going back to the last game I look at the amount of chances we created. We showed good attacking threat,” said Howe. “Yes, there were moments the other way that weren’t great. But I saw enough of us as an attacking side — and I did at Arsenal, too, to be honest.
“I wouldn’t say that we created really clear cut chances, but I know that we created enough against a really tough opponent to know that we will be in games from an attacking perspective,” he added. “We have to improve the defensive side of things. Martin Dubravka returned and played very well.
“So for us there were positives in defeat. We do know that we can’t keep saying that and we have to turn these small margins the other way.”
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Greg Norman: Saudi Arabia can become a golfing powerhouse via my Asian Tour revamp LONDON: When “the Great White Shark” — aka Greg Norman — sinks his teeth into something, success is guaranteed on and off the golf course. The 66-year-old Australian won 91 professional tournaments, including two Open championships, during a distinguished career that saw him top the…
Greg Norman: Saudi Arabia can become a golfing powerhouse via my Asian Tour revamp
LONDON: When “the Great White Shark” — aka Greg Norman — sinks his teeth into something, success is guaranteed on and off the golf course.
The 66-year-old Australian won 91 professional tournaments, including two Open championships, during a distinguished career that saw him top the world rankings for 331 consecutive weeks.
The pioneering Norman has also become one of the world’s most successful athlete-turned-entrepreneurs, with his global corporation Great White Shark Enterprises boasting more than a dozen companies.
As such, Norman’s bold proclamation to Arab News that Saudi Arabia can become a golfing powerhouse under his tenacious tutelage should not dismissed lightly.
Norman last month was named CEO of LIV Golf Investments, a newly formed, Saudi-backed company that will bring a series of 10 new events to the Asian Tour in 2022.
He is relishing the opportunity to channel “44 years of observation, knowledge and experience” into rousing golf’s “sleeping giant,” Asia, as part of a ground-breaking 10-year deal that will involve tournaments being staged across Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“I first went (to Asia) in 1977 and I’ve been going back every year, except during the pandemic years, as a player, golf course designer or through my business acumen,” Norman said via a Zoom call.
“I’ve seen what golf has done there. I was the first guy to build an 18-hole grass course in Jordan. I was the first guy to do an exhibition match in mainland China. I was one of the first guys to play in the UAE as a professional, so I’ve seen the economic growth, as well as the growth of the game of golf, when it goes into new markets.”
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds with a diverse international investment portfolio, is the majority shareholder in Norman’s new company.
Saudi PIF has committed more than $200 million, one of the single biggest investments in the history of professional golf, to support playing opportunities and prize funds.
The series will add to the Asian Tour’s backbone of established events to comprise a 25-event season, expected to represent a record-breaking combined prize fund in 2022.
The announcement follows hard on the heels of the striking of a new 10-year partnership between the Asian Tour and Golf Saudi, the organizers of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, which will see the event become the flagship tournament on the Asian Tour, featuring an increased prize fund of $5 million.
Norman is hugely impressed with Golf Saudi’s aggressive drive to promote golf as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 masterplan, which includes multiple golf courses being built in the country.
“Golf Saudi are passionate about the game of golf. If you have that much passion, vision and desire like Vision 2030, then you’re going to accelerate it. I love to see that,” he said.
“I don’t think I’ve seen an investment in the future of a country like what I’ve seen in Saudi Arabia.”
He added: “I’ve seen it in pockets around the world — Vietnam has done a great job in investing in its coastline and building high-end resorts and golf course developments there — but nothing to the magnitude of what Saudi Arabia has done. It’s a knock-on effect, a domino effect, and golf is paving the way for (prosperity). It’s an eye-opener to see how the country is investing into their people and opportunities from a health and wellness perspective, from a sporting perspective, from an education perspective,” he said.
“I would say the citizens of Saudi Arabia should be extremely excited about their future.”
Norman said: “Do I think Saudi Arabia could become a golfing powerhouse? Yes, I do.”
“If you’re going to invest dollars into building new facilities, it will allow people access to the game of golf,” he said. “Then you bolt on a lot of other things like academies and education and the hospitality side of things, so it’s actually a beautiful process to watch.”
He added: “It’s not just one individual who benefits from it, it’s everybody.”
Norman said the schedule for the new series will be announced shortly, with all full-field events contributing toward the Order of Merit ranking.
He is confident of assembling a stellar line-up of world-renowned golfers, too, which is crucial to his overriding aim of inspiring the next generation.
World No.2 Dustin Johnson, who won the Saudi International in 2019 and 2020, is among those rumored to be interested, although Norman would not discuss potential participants.
“All I can tell you is every day I get a message, whether it’s through my WhatsApp, or through Signal or my IG account, from a player asking: ‘How can I get involved? We love it. Thank you, thank you, thank you’.”
He said: “Obviously creating the ability to bring professional golfers stimulates the interest among the younger generation, who would say: ‘Oh, wow, I want to win that golf tournament that John Smith just won.’ The interest level gets accelerated, the fan level gets accelerated, and the fanbase gets bigger, broader and stronger. The game of golf gets better because of that.
“When the fanbase gets elevated, then (people with) more corporate dollars want to come in because the fans are there. There’s this domino effect that happens from an economic standpoint and also a growth standpoint.”
He added: “Could Saudi Arabia produce the next Tiger Woods? The answer is ‘yes.’ But it’s a long-term ‘yes’ and a generational ‘yes.’,” he said.
“In the mid-1980s, there was a gentleman called Sven Tumba from Sweden, who was an ice hockey player who loved golf. He went on this mission to create an opportunity to grow grassroots golf in Sweden. Look where Sweden is today,. They’ve got a major championship winner (2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson).”
Norman is eager to seize every opportunity to expand the game of golf as part of his landmark initiative.
This includes potentially inviting women to participate, as they did at this month’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International for the second year. Building new golf courses across Asia would also be “a logical next step,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Asian Tour CEO and commissioner, Cho Minn Thant, recently suggested that television broadcasting innovations would be explored, including “putting a 3D camera on some of the players if they allow it, or new graphics.”
Norman agreed, adding: “I’m getting flooded with the best of the best from the technology side of life, from technology corporations, from 5G corporations. Golf is under a linear broadcaster, so there are so many ways to show the sport in so many different aspects with the technology that’s out there today and not being used.”
While Norman is fiercely determined to make the Asian Tour global golf’s premier series, he insists he does not want to antagonize the long-established PGA and European Tours.
“I’m a big believer that we can play in the same sandbox. Why can’t there be others who are creating a separate but similar opportunity for players as independent contractors to go and increase their market value?” he said.
“Competition is the best thing for everyone and everything on this planet,” Norman added. “You can go through everything we do in life and we need a competitor to push us to the next level.”
With a hungry Great White Shark on the prowl, Asian sports fans can expect to feast themselves on some spectacular golf in years to come.