United legend Ryan Giggs hopeful of full recovery for stricken mentor Alex Ferguson

Manchester United player Ryan Giggs (L) and Manager Sir Alex Ferguson in a 2005 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 07 May 2018

United legend Ryan Giggs hopeful of full recovery for stricken mentor Alex Ferguson

LONDON: Manchester United’s most decorated player Ryan Giggs is hopeful his legendary former manager Alex Ferguson will make a full recovery from emergency surgery on a brain haemorrhage.
Considered the most successful manager in the history of British football, Ferguson, 76, won 38 trophies in just over 26 years in charge of United, including 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice before retiring in 2013.
United have offered no update on Ferguson’s condition since saying a procedure on the haemorrhage on Saturday had gone “very well,” but that a period of intensive care is needed to optimize his recovery.
Wales manager Giggs was part of all 13 of Ferguson’s title-winning sides in a 24-year playing career at Old Trafford.
“Now is the time to pray and hope he can make a full recovery,” Giggs told BBC Wales.
“He has been the biggest influence in my career, both on and off the pitch.
“I know the operation has been a success — but he is a fighter and that is what makes me think that he will be able to make a recovery.”
United defender Phil Jones is also positive on Ferguson’s chances of making a full recovery, despite admitting to being “devastated” by the news of his ill health.
“(I am) just devastated, absolutely devastated,” said Jones, who was signed for United by Ferguson in 2011.
“He is such a legend in my eyes. He is the one who brought me to the club and gave me that opportunity to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world. He’s taken me under his wing like a father and it was shocking.”
“It’s sad, but I know his character. I know he has that fight in him. Hopefully he’ll recover well.”
United midfielder Juan Mata admitted news of Ferguson’s condition had a “huge impact” on the current squad.
“This circumstance has had a huge impact on Manchester United, as you can imagine,” Mata wrote in his blog.
“All of us are united right now, wishing Sir Alex a speedy recovery. He has been a unique and fundamental figure in the football world over the last few decades.”
United thanked the many well-wishers, including the likes of rival managers Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, who spoke of their admiration for Ferguson.
“As well as being uppermost in the thoughts of our own players, past and present, Sir Alex has been the subject of many warm and touching comments from other clubs, governing bodies and individuals in the beautiful game,” United said in a statement on Sunday.
Wenger enjoyed a long, and at times fractious rivalry with Ferguson as they battled for Premier League supremacy in the first decade of the Frenchman’s 22-year reign in charge of Arsenal.
However, they later became friends and with Wenger leaving Arsenal at the end of the season, Ferguson presented the his old adversary with a memento on his final visit to United’s Old Trafford ground just last weekend.
“I was with him on the pitch last week. I went to see him in the box after the game and he looked in perfect shape,” said Wenger, after his final home game as Arsenal boss.
“He told me he is doing a lot of exercise, and he looked very happy but that kind of accident can happen. We wish him all well and to recover very quickly. He is a strong man and an optimistic man.”
Sunday saw runaway winners Manchester City receive the Premier League trophy. But local rivalries were forgotten as a banner was held aloft by City fans reading: “Football aside get well Fergie” as supporters spilled onto the pitch at full-time of a scoreless draw with Huddersfield.
“All the Manchester City fans in the stadium, you cannot find one person who does not wish the best for an amazing person,” said City boss Guardiola.
Ferguson famously described his mission upon joining United from Aberdeen in 1986 as knocking Liverpool “off their perch.”
He duly did so as United overtook Liverpool as the most successful side in English domestic football.
“When I heard the news yesterday I really couldn’t believe this could happen. He is absolutely the boss,” said Liverpool manager Klopp after his side’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday. “I wish him the best.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte added: “I have had the chance to know him and his wife. I understand that this is a special person. Not a normal person.”
A brain haemorrhage is bleeding in or around the brain following the rupture of a blood vessel, which can be caused by elevated blood pressure, aneurysms or physical trauma.
Operations to relieve the pressure of excess blood in the brain, as has been the case with Ferguson, are crucial if sufferers are to avoid brain damage or even death.


Morocco fire coach Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

Updated 11 August 2022

Morocco fire coach Halilhodzic ahead of World Cup

  • The fall-out appears to have come over Halilhodzic's handling of two of his star players
  • He sidelined Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax for disciplinary reasons

RABAT: World Cup qualifiers Morocco have split with coach Vahid Halilhodzic three months ahead of the finals in Qatar.
The fall-out appears to have come over Halilhodzic’s handling of two of his star players.
He sidelined Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax for disciplinary reasons and qualified for the World Cup without them, but it seems the federation wanted them back.
“We came to an amiable agreement to part ways due to divergences on preparations for the World Cup,” the Moroccan federation said.
Neither Ziyech and Mazraoui were part of the squad that reached the quarterfinals of the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January and Halilhodzic omitted both from the World Cup qualifying play-off matches against the Democratic Republic of Congo in March.
The World Cup starts November 20 in Qatar where Morocco take on Croatia, Belgium and Canada in Group F.
Halilhodzi has previously qualified for the World Cup finals with Ivory Coast and Japan.


Norwegian woman climber on track to break 'super peaks' record

Updated 11 August 2022

Norwegian woman climber on track to break 'super peaks' record

  • Kristin Harila successfully summit Pakistan's Gasherbrum I on Thursday  
  • Pakistan has enjoyed a record-breaking climbing season this year

ISLAMABAD: Norwegian climber Kristin Harila has just three mountains left in her bid to climb the world's 14 "super peaks" in record time after successfully summiting Pakistan's Gasherbrum I, officials said Thursday.
Nepali Nirmal Purja holds the record for climbing the world's 8,000 meter-plus (26,000 feet) mountains -- six months and six days -- but Harila now has until early November to complete her quest and beat his time.
Harila's latest successful summit was reported on her official social media pages and confirmed by Karrar Hadri, secretary of Pakistan's Alpine Club.
"The second phase in Pakistan was very challenging and dangerous: ever-changing weather conditions, being hit by a rock, illness and a very tight schedule," read a message on Harila's Instagram page.
"But here we are with only three peaks left."
Five of the 14 super peaks are in Pakistan -- including K2, the world's second highest mountain -- and the country has enjoyed a record-breaking climbing season this year.
Sajid Hussain, head of the tourism department in Gilgit Baltistan, told AFP they had issued about 1,780 permits for the top peaks.
"It has boosted our tourism and has increased our foreign exchange," he said.
Only around 40 people in history have summited all 14 of the super peaks, but none have come close to Purja's 2019 expedition.
He demolished the previous record for accomplishing the feat with supplemental oxygen, set by Poland's Jerzy Kukuczka in the 1980s at seven years, 11 months and 14 days.
In an interview with AFP earlier this year, 36-year-old Harila said she was inspired to show women were as capable as men of achieving great mountaineering feats.
"In history and until now, it has been the strong macho men going out climbing mountains," she said.
"When I talk to people that are not in this sport, they believe that men are more capable than women... If we are going to change, we need to get attention and show that women are just as capable."
The three remaining mountains for Harila are Cho Oyu (sixth highest, in Nepal/China), Manaslu (eighth, Nepal) and Shishapangma (14th, China). 


Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

Updated 11 August 2022

Real Madrid beats Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 for UEFA Super Cup

HELSINKI: This time, there were only two goals.
David Alaba and Karim Benzema scored in each half for Real Madrid to win the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday.
Alaba prodded the opener home from close range in the 37th minute when Casemiro cushioned Benzema’s header back after a corner. The French star then sealed Madrid’s record-equaling fifth Super Cup title in the 65th thanks to an assist from the lively Vinícius Júnior.
It was Benzema’s 324th goal for Madrid, overtaking club legend Raúl. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has more after scoring 450 goals for the club between 2009-18.
But the game between the Champions League winners, Madrid, and Europa League champions, Frankfurt, failed to match the spectacle of their previous meeting.
Their only other competitive game was the 1960 European Cup final, when Alfredo Di Stéfano scored three goals and Ferenc Puskás chipped in with four to give Madrid a 7-3 win and fifth consecutive European crown.
Frankfurt goal-scorer Erwin Stein and teammate Dieter Stinka were in Helsinki for the rematch 62 years later, but it was the 93-year-old José Santamaria — the only remaining Madrid player from that final in Glasgow — who celebrated another win. The three veterans embraced warmly when they met before kickoff.


Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

Updated 10 August 2022

Cricket federation to establish four regional associations across Saudi Arabia

  • New centers will be in Jouf, Hail, Al-Hudud Ash Shamaliyah and Al-Baha

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation is set to establish four new regional associations to help promote the sport across the Kingdom.

The federation told Arab News on Wednesday that is has 15 official associations representing the sport in nine regions, but aims to establish new associations in the remaining four regions “to make sure that we have future cricket activities all around the Kingdom.”

The long-term aim is for Saudi Arabian cricket teams to compete professionally at regional and international competitions, with the national teams taking on world’s best.

In recent years, the SACF has introduced several competitions and programs to encourage the country’s youth to take up one of the world’s oldest and most popular sports.

In October 2021, it signed an agreement with sports management company JSW Sports to develop cricket in Saudi Arabia, focusing on high-performance academies.

The SACF was established in 2020 and lined up a series of major initiatives the following year, including a national cricket championship, a corporate cricket tournament, a cricket league for expatriate workers, and a social program in several cities.

The initiatives are part of a mission to promote healthy and active lifestyles under the Saudi Vision 2030’s Quality of Life scheme, with the SACF — supported by the Ministry of Sports and Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee — mandated to increase physical activity levels by 40 percent over the next decade.

In November, the SACF partnered with Saudi’s Sports For All Federation to launch the Kingdom’s first cricket talent-spotting program.

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Zamalek president jailed for insulting rival

Updated 10 August 2022

Zamalek president jailed for insulting rival

  • Al-Ahly and Zamalek are historic rivals whose fans regularly clash after matches
  • Zamalek boss, Mortada Mansour, was initially sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Mahmoud al-Khatib, president of Al-Ahly

CAIRO: An Egyptian appeals court has sentenced the president of Zamalek football club to a month in prison for insulting the president of bitter rivals Al-Ahly, a judicial source told AFP on Wednesday.
Al-Ahly and Zamalek, the country’s two biggest clubs and among the continent’s most successful, are historic rivals whose fans regularly clash after matches.
The 70-year-old Zamalek boss, Mortada Mansour, was initially sentenced to one year in prison for insulting Mahmoud Al-Khatib, president of Al-Ahly and a former star player, and his family in a video posted on social networks and on Zamalek’s club channel.
On Wednesday, Mansour’s sentence was reduced to one month in prison and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (500 euros).
A former magistrate and member of parliament, Mansour is regularly in the news. He has had a long-running battle with Al-Ahly and has physically attack his counterparts.
His parliamentary immunity had for a while enabled him to avoid legal proceedings after complaints of insults and defamation.
In 2007, he was sentenced to three years in jail by a criminal court in Cairo for “insulting” court officials and levelling accusations of corruption against them.

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