Al-Hilal hire Spanish technical crew to oversee age-group teams

AL-Hilal players have be getting reacquainted with the gym before they go to Austria to step up pre-season training.
Updated 11 July 2018
0

Al-Hilal hire Spanish technical crew to oversee age-group teams

  • Al-Hilal annouce Spanish team to oversee the youth setup at the club.
  • Riyadh giants to step up pre-season training in Austria which includes five friendly games against European opposition.

Al-Hilal have hired a team of Spaniards to look after their age-group teams in a further sign that the Saudi Professional League is looking to become more international in its outlook. The Spanish technical crew will look after the under-17, under-15 and under-13 teams and look to build foundations that will hopefully serve the Riyadh giants well in the future. A club announcement read: “The Spanish technical director Mr. Josep Cifre Alaminos will supervise the technical work of Al-Hilal age-group teams, meanwhile Mr. Francesc Pereto will be in charge of the U-17 team. Mr. Eduardo Balada will be the physical fitness trainer of the team. Mr. Carlos Inarejos will lead the U-15 team, Mr. Miquel Angel Ponce will be their finest coach, while Mr. Eric Barragan will mange the U-13 side.”
The move to try and inject some Spanish flavor into the Al-Hilal setup comes just months after the General Sports Authority and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation signed a deal with Spain’s La Liga to loan nine Saudi Arabian players to Spanish clubs earlier this year.
The headline names in the deal were internationals Salem Al-Dawsari, Yahya Al-Shahri and Fahad-Al Muwallad moving to Villarreal, Leganes and Levante respectively, in a the hope it would prepare them well for the Green Falcons’ World Cup campaign. But the agreement also saw younger, less well-known players move to lower league clubs in a bid to give them an insight into a different footballing culture and allow that to help them grow as players.
Before the loan signings, the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s best players, both young and old, competed in the country’s top flight. Only one player, Mukhtar Ali, played abroad with Dutch top flight side Vitesse Arnhem.
Al-Hilal’s pre-season training is under way with the early sessions all focusing on fitness and strength work with Nawaf Al-Abed continuing his return to full fitness after a groin injury kept him out of Saudi Arabia’s squad that came third in Group A in Russia.
The pre-season workout will go up a level or two when the squad travels to Austria on Saturday for a training camp. It will be new boss Jesus Jorge’s first opportunity to drum his footballing philosophy into his new charges, a squad that will be bolstered by the the return of not only the injured Al-Abed, but also Carlos Eduardo and Omar Khribin.
Both the Brazilian attacking midfielder and the Syrian Asian player of the year missed Al-Hilal’s AFC Champions League campaign, where they crashed out at the group stage months after narrowly losing the final to Japan’s Urawa Reds.


Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 17 July 2018
0

Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."