Al-Faisaly’s Boyle eyeing dream end to season as Australia battle Uruguay in winner-takes-all World Cup play-off
When he calmly tucked home the first goal into the empty Arsenal net to open the scoring for Hibernian in a 2-1 pre-season victory against Mikel Arteta’s side, Martin Boyle would not have imagined the nature of the challenges he would be facing come the end of the 2021-22 season. The Aberdeen-born striker was entering…
When he calmly tucked home the first goal into the empty Arsenal net to open the scoring for Hibernian in a 2-1 pre-season victory against Mikel Arteta’s side, Martin Boyle would not have imagined the nature of the challenges he would be facing come the end of the 2021-22 season. The Aberdeen-born striker was entering his seventh season at Easter Road where he had established himself as a firm favorite for Hibernian fans. And when he powered in from the penalty spot to complete a famous hat-trick, downing Rangers in the League Cup semifinal in late November, Boyle would not have expected how the second half of his season would unfold. Yet, here he was, six months later: A beaming smile on his face as he took in the atmosphere in Qatar’s Ahmed bin Ali Stadium — halfway through ticking all three boxes of his club and country objectives of the season, none of which now include success with Hibs. A $3.7 million January deal saw Boyle swap the green of Hibernian with maroon. Not that of their fiercest rivals, Hearts, thankfully for Hibs supporters, but the maroon of Al-Faisaly in the small Saudi Arabian town of Harmah; some 200 km northwest of the capital Riyadh. Two contrasting yet equally important objectives were placed on his intray; pulling Al-Faisaly out of the relegation zone and helping them make an impact on their first continental appearance; the 2022 AFC Champions League. The latter was achieved in style. Boyle’s strike deep in added time to salvage a point against Jordan’s Al-Wehdat meant his side pipped two-time continental champions Al-Sadd and Uzbek powerhouse Nasaf to the top of the group, advancing to the AFC Champions League round of 16 at the first time of asking. Four months, three goals and one assist on from his debut, Boyle left for international duty with his club side in a much better position than when he joined; they have climbed out of the drop zone, but only just. Up from 15th when he joined, the Maroons are now 13th in the table, one point afloat of relegation with two games to go. But meanwhile Boyle’s attention has shifted to arguably the most important of his three objectives; ensuring Australia’s run of four consecutive appearances in the FIFA World Cup continues. Despite being born in Aberdeen and playing his entire career hitherto in Scotland, even representing the country at U16 level, Boyle opted to represent his father’s birthplace of Australia and has amassed 16 caps for the Socceroos since coming on to replace Jamie Maclaren against South Korea back in 2018. On Tuesday in Doha, it was Boyle’s cross from the right that set up Jackson Irvine’s opener against the UAE. The goal was canceled out by Caio Canedo before Ajdin Hrustic’s half-volley settled the affair late on, sending coach Graham Arnold’s men to the inter-confederation play-off against Peru six days later. “We are halfway there. It was a good result against the UAE. Victory was the most important thing. We recover well, get back on the training pitch and prepare for the game on Monday,” said Boyle in the aftermath of the victory. “I thought we kept the ball well in the second half and tired them out a little bit so we could get in attacking positions. I felt we were able to hurt them in behind and with a bit of luck we got the goal. The disappointing part for us was to concede quickly after scoring, but we showed good character and were able to dig deep and get the win.” The second of his three objectives of the season is now 50 percent done. Standing between Boyle and a FIFA World Cup debut will be a Peru side featuring two familiar Saudi Pro League opponents; Andre Carrillo of Al-Hilal and Christian Cueva of Al-Fateh. The most recent of Boyle’s three league goals came in a 1-0 win over Cueva’s Al-Fateh, while an encounter against Carrillo’s Al-Hilal later in the month could well determine whether objective number three in the Australian forward’s season is achieved, but now focus is on repeating the trick against Cueva with a place in Group D of the FIFA World Cup, alongside France, Denmark and Tunisia, up for grabs. “Peru game will be a tough challenge. They are a top team and went to the FIFA World Cup last time, but tonight (UAE game) was a challenge and there are no easy games and you have to earn the right to be at the World Cup. We have to recover well, sleep well and eat good food. Get back on the training pitch and prepare as well as possible. “It is a nice thing that we played here in Qatar during the qualifiers, so we know all the surroundings, the weather, and we know what the facilities are like so obviously that was a bit of a help for us.” Hibernian ended the season eighth in the Scottish Premiership; their worst result in nearly a decade, severely damaged by the departure of Boyle who remained the club’s top scorer by the conclusion of the campaign despite having not played in the green jersey since Christmas. But Boyle would have no complaints should the next two weeks bring about successful completion of his to-do list in the Middle East with wins for Australia and Al-Faisaly.
Britney Spears Shares ‘Like a Virgin’ Dance With Madonna at Her Wedding
Spears is seen getting close to Madonna for some “Like a Virgin” fun in a new video from her wedding reception. Madonna, with special guest singer Britney Spears, performs during her Sticky and Sweet Tour at Dodger Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/GI The footage from Britney Spears and Sam…
Spears is seen getting close to Madonna for some “Like a Virgin” fun in a new video from her wedding reception. Madonna, with special guest singer Britney Spears, performs during her Sticky and Sweet Tour at Dodger Stadium on November 6, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Kevin Winter/GI The footage from Britney Spears and Sam Asghari’s wedding keeps coming. In a new clip shared on social media on Saturday (June 11), Spears gave fans one more glimpse at what it was like to celebrate with her famous friends, courtesy of another clip featuring Madonna. Spears is seen smooching and dancing with her husband, showing off her wedding gown and getting close to Madonna for a little “Like a Virgin” fun in a series of wedding reception videos posted this weekend. Explore See latest videos, charts and news See latest videos, charts and news Spears and Asghari tied the knot on Thursday (June 9), eight months after they announced their engagement. The pair met in 2016 on the set of the singer’s “Slumber Party” video. “LIVING IS GIVING … pssss don’t worry I had my first diamond thong underneath my jacket … hope I didn’t offend anyone,” the pop star captioned the latest post from her wedding celebration, where at some point in the night she’d also recreated her legendary kiss with Madonna from the 2003 MTV VMAs. In another cute video that had already circulated after the nuptials, Spears, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore and Donatella Versace were seen singing along to another Madonna’s classic, “Vogue.” Check out the “Like a Virgin” moment, which happens about 23 seconds into the clip below. Get weekly rundowns straight to your inbox Subscribe
Military abortion options expected to be debated in annual defense bill process
The nationwide debate over abortion will be a key point of contention in the upcoming defense authorization bill process later this month, with a key Democratic lawmaker saying the issue needs to be part of the military readiness discussion.“If readiness is impacted by the fact that women are going to have to travel thousands of…
The nationwide debate over abortion will be a key point of contention in the upcoming defense authorization bill process later this month, with a key Democratic lawmaker saying the issue needs to be part of the military readiness discussion.“If readiness is impacted by the fact that women are going to have to travel thousands of miles when they are in need of an abortion service, then we need to look at that,” Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, said this week.Committee staff said no specific language regarding military abortion services or access was included in the personnel section of the measure approved on Wednesday. Instead, the language focuses on things like the annual military pay raise and family support provisions.But committee members will be able to offer a wide range of amendments on the issue as part of the full committee mark up on June 22.RELATEDSpeier would not specify what proposals she or her colleagues will offer on the issue, but said that servicemembers should not be treated like “second-class citizens” when it comes to access to health care services.“We need to clarify for service members who are raped, subjected to incest or have situations in which their life is at risk: Where can they actually get an abortion?” she said.Last week, Speier and 81 other Democratic House members unveiled legislation that would allow military medical treatment facilities to provide abortion services to members of the military. Under current law, those procedures are banned except in cases of rape, incest and critical medical need.But supporters say they believe a change is needed in the wake of reports that the Supreme Court later this summer could overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion across America.RELATEDAt least 26 states — including locations like Texas, with major military bases — have indicated they will outlaw the procedure within days of such a Supreme Court decision. Speier and other democratic lawmakers have said that would leave military members assigned to those locations without medical options if they find themselves in need of an abortion.Separately, numerous lawmakers have asked for defense officials to clarify rules regarding leave time and travel assistance if female troops seek an abortion across state lines. Army officials have said they are looking into the issue.Past committee debates over the availability of abortion services at overseas military bases have provided some contentious moments in the annual defense bill work, with conservative lawmakers firmly against any loosening of the current rules.Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
Mo Donegal wins pulling away, leads 1-2 finish for Pletcher at Belmont Stakes
NEW YORK: Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had simple advice Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. before the Belmont Stakes. “Be patient,” Pletcher said. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.” Sometimes, less is Mo. Mo Donegal pulled away down the home stretch and held off filly Nest…
NEW YORK: Triple Crown veteran Todd Pletcher had simple advice Saturday for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. before the Belmont Stakes. “Be patient,” Pletcher said. “I think you have the best last quarter of any horse in the race.” Sometimes, less is Mo. Mo Donegal pulled away down the home stretch and held off filly Nest to win the Belmont Stakes, giving Pletcher a 1-2 finish and his sixth Triple Crown victory, including four at this track on the outskirts of New York City. “To be honest with you, we were a little confident going into the race today,” Donegal Racing CEO and co-owner Jerry Crawford said. “When he turned for home, I was like, forget about it. I know Todd thought he could get a strong last quarter mile, and he surely did.” Rich Strike, a stunning Kentucky Derby winner at 80-to-1 odds, was sixth. Mo Donegal rounded the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2 minutes, 28.28 seconds, three lengths ahead of Nest — ridden by Ortiz’s brother, Jose. Pletcher, who lives on Long Island, adds another Belmont title following wins with Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017. Mo Donegal beat an eight-horse field without a clear favorite. We the People, a monster in the mud, opened at 2 to 1 amid a rainy forecast but reached 7 to 2 by race time as showers held off. Mo Donegal entered the gate the betting favorite at 5 to 2. We the People led for much of the race, but Mo Donegal and Ortiz took charge coming out of the final turn. The 3-year-old colt paid $7.20, $3.80 and $3. Nest — who nearly became Pletcher’s second filly to win Belmont after Rags to Riches — paid $5.30 and $4.10. Skippylongstocking was third and returned $5.60 to show. We the People finished fourth. Rich Striker owner Rick Dawson and trainer Eric Reed held the Kentucky Derby winner out of the Preakness with an eye on Belmont, the first healthy horse to skip Pimlico after winning the Triple Crown’s first even since 1985. Reed said the team encouraged jockey Sonny Leon to try pushing Rich Strike from the outside, but the horse kept trying to get back inside — where he made a late charge past 19 horse to win at Churchill Downs. Rich Strike spent much of the race in last place and couldn’t recover. “I think we just made a tactical error,” Reed said. Just like Rich Strike, Mo Donegal was at the back of the pack at the Derby, but the colt didn’t have enough kick at Churchill Downs. He found it Saturday, winning the 154th running of the $1.5 million race. Mo Donegal made a winner out of co-owner Mike Repole, a local entrepreneur known around the track as “Mike from Queens.” Repole also co-owns Nest. “This is New York’s biggest race and to win it here, with my family and friends and 70 people here, this will be a big winner’s circle,” he said. It’s the fourth straight year the Triple Crown contests were won by three different horses, a first for the sport since 1926-29. The race marked a return to form for Belmont itself after the 2020 Stakes were closed to the public due to the pandemic and the 2021 event was limited to 11,238 spectators by virus restrictions. Capacity was capped again, this time at 50,000, because of congestion concerns stemming from the newly built arena next door for the NHL’s New York Islanders. Still, fans crammed into cars on the Long Island Rail Road and breathed life into the 117-year-old track with floral headwear, pastel suits and the unmistakable musk of booze and cigars. The reported attendance of 46,103 fell far short of the grounds record 120,139 set in 2004. Not much of a surprise, given the shaky weather forecast and the lack of a Triple Crown contender. The field was sparse, too. No horse ran all three Triple Crown legs this year, heightening concern that three races in five weeks may be too tight a schedule to keep the horses healthy. Preakness winner Early Voting was sidelined, likely to prepare for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 27. Epicenter, the runner-up at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, also skipped. In the $500,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, Matareya romped to a 6 1/4-length victory. Favorite Echo Zulu scratched at the post on the advice of the track veterinarian. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat, Matareya ($2.60) ran the mile in 1:35.77, winning for the fifth time in eight career starts. Heavily favored Flightline got off a step slow, overcame an early traffic issue and cruised to a six-length victory in the $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Mile. The victory kept the 4-year-old Tapit colt undefeated in four career starts. This was the first one he did not win by double-digit lengths. Flightline ($2.90) was also ridden by Prat and trained by John Sadler.