Omar Khribin shock move to Pyramids FC ‘good for both parties’ Al-Hilal official says.

Omar Khribin was last year's Asian Player of the Year, but so far this season has started one match. (AFP)
Updated 17 September 2018

Omar Khribin shock move to Pyramids FC ‘good for both parties’ Al-Hilal official says.

  • Syria star set to move to Egypt club on loan in January.
  • Competition for attacking places fierce at Al-Hilal since Bafetimbi Gomis and Omar Abdulrahman joined Riyadh giants this summer.

Omar Khribin’s shock move from Al-Hilal to Egypt’s Pyramids FC could be a good deal for all parties, according to officials at the Riyadh giants.


On Sunday it was announced that the 2017 Asian Player of the Year will head to Egypt on a six-month loan in January with the newly formed club having the option to make the deal permanent next summer.

In three games so far under new coach Jorge Jesus, two in the league and the Saudi Super Cup against Al-Ittihad in London, the 24-year-old has started just once. The Syrian striker played 60 minutes of Al-Hilal’s 3-1 win at Al-Raed on Saturday, his first start of the season.

Fans have taken to social media to express their frustration at losing one of the top strikers in Asian football, who joined the Saudi Pro League champions in January last year. But the club is hopeful that the move will be the right one for all parties.

“It is obviously sad for fans and the team to lose such a talented player but the move should be good for him in the end,” an Al-Hilal official told Arab News. 

“We have a number of high-level strikers in the team and it is likely he will be rotated in and out of the starting line-up. But in Egypt he should get more minutes on the pitch.”

The Riyadh club may well be in the market to reinforce their attack when the winter transfer window opens. 

“There is a possibility in January of more high-profile foreign strikers joining the club ahead of the AFC Champions League and the departure of Khribin frees up a spot.”

Champions League rules allow participants to field just four foreign players, one of which must be from an AFC member nation. “With Omar Abdulrahman already in the team, there was not going to be room for another Asian player,” added the official, who also denied media rumors that attacking midfielder Carlos Eduardo could also be loaned out of the club.

French striker Bafetimbi Gomis was signed in August at a reported cost of around $14 million. The former Lyon and Swansea City star opened his Al-Hilal account on Saturday and is already proving a popular figure with the fans. Jesus also has Venezuelan striker Gelmin Rivas to call upon upfront.

Khribin, who almost led his country to the this summer’s World Cup, only to lose a two-legged continental playoff to Australia, said that he was looking forward to joining Pyramids FC. 

“It will be an exciting challenge for me to play in Egypt but I am focusing on Al-Hilal until then,” the striker said.

Pyramids FC is a new club which have Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority, as their president. After six games of the new Egyptian Premier League season, the ambitious Cairo club are unbeaten and sit in third place.

Khribin could be a ready-made replacement for Rubimar. The Brazilian striker recently left Pyramids to travel in the opposite direction to join Saudi Arabian club Ohod. So upset was head coach Alberto Valentim at the deal that the Brazilian coach left the club to be replaced by Argentine boss Ricardo La Volpe.

Although the move is set to go through in January, it is possible that Khribin will be unavailable until February. Syria have qualified for next January’s Asian Cup in the UAE.

Al-Hilal, top of the Saudi Pro League table with two wins from the opening two games, continue their domestic season on Thursday with a home game against Al-Batin. The club has announced that entry for fans will be free of charge.

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

Updated 15 September 2019

Mayor of town in north Japan bemoans lack of Olympic funds

  • Tokyo is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games
  • Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games

TOKYO: The mayor of a town in northeastern Japan that will host Olympic soccer games says his city has received no funding from the central government that has promised to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help in the reconstruction of the region.

The Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 organizers are hoping to use the Olympics to showcase Japan’s recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Several Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, will be held in northeastern Japan.

But with less than a year to go before the opening ceremony, Yutaka Kumagai, the mayor of Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture, says his city has seen no funding from the central government.

“There is no help from the government, we don’t have any budget from them, none,” Kumagai said on Saturday. “Tokyo 2020 is said to be a symbol of the reconstruction but when it comes to the budget, we don’t have any budget from the Olympic games here in Rifu.”

Kumagai made the comments during a media tour of Miyagi Stadium, a 49,000-seat facility in Rifu that will host men’s and women’s football at the 2020 Olympics.

About 50,000 people are still displaced in the Tohoku region as of August, according to the Reconstruction Agency. Yoshiaki Suda, the mayor of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, concurred with Kumagai. Like Rifu, Onagawa is a coastal city that sustained heavy destruction.

“We haven’t received any subsidy, even one yen, from the central government,” Suda said. “Whatever we do for the venues, for the hospitality for the Olympics, we have to do ourselves.”

Some media reports have made the claim that the Olympics have hampered the reconstruction efforts, taking workers away from the region to help with construction in Tokyo.

Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods in northeastern Japan and took more than 18,000 lives.

Tokyo, which projected total costs of about $7.5 billion in its winning bid for the games in 2013, is reportedly spending about $20 billion to prepare the city to host the games.

A group of anti-Olympic activists, many from outside Japan, have held small protests and other events this summer under the Japanese title “Han-gorin no Kai” — which translates roughly to No Olympics. They oppose Olympic spending, which they say cuts into budgets for housing and environmental issues.

They also call for more money to rebuild Fukushima prefecture located northeast of Tokyo. Organizers say Fukushima is a main focus of the Olympics, staging baseball, softball and soccer games there to persuade the world the area is safe.

Tokyo organizers have faced a series of hurdles as they prepare to host the games. In August, Tokyo’s summer heat forced an Olympic women’s triathlon qualifying event to be shortened because of high temperatures that are likely to impact next year’s games.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, was forced to quit earlier this year when he was implicated in a vote-buying scheme to land the games. He has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged he signed off on about $2 million that French investigators allege went to buy votes.