Iniesta ready for face-off against ex-team Barcelona

Vissel Kobe's Andres Iniesta, right, and FC Barcelona's Hiroki Abe at Noevir Stadium in Kobe, western Japan, Friday, July 26, 2019. (AP)
Updated 26 July 2019

Iniesta ready for face-off against ex-team Barcelona

  • “We all feel that it is such an honor to play Barca,” says the World Cup-winning Spaniard
  • Iniesta signed for Kobe last May

KOBE, Japan: Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta is looking forward to taking on his former teammates when his Vissel Kobe meets Barcelona this weekend for a friendly, saying Friday the face-off will be “an honor.”
The match Saturday in the Japanese city of Kobe will be a reunion of sorts, with Barcelona’s current line-up facing ex-teammates Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper, all now Vissel players.
It will be the first time Iniesta has met his former team on the pitch.
“We all feel that it is such an honor to play Barca,” Iniesta told reporters through a Japanese translator.
“The team, Barcelona, is special... It will be a very important match for us,” he said.
World Cup-winning Iniesta, who lifted 32 major trophies with Barcelona, signed for Kobe last May in a historic J-League deal worth a reported $30 million a year. The 34-year-old was appointed the team’s captain in April.
The friendly is Barca’s last match in Japan before they head home, and midfielder Sergio Busquets said the chance to meet Iniesta on the pitch “means a lot” to the players.
“Now he is in Japan and having new experiences. But it does not change the fact that he is a very important friend still,” Busquets said.
“Now I am giving him these kind words, but tomorrow on the pitch I won’t be able to be like this. We will fight with full strength.”
The match comes after Chelsea defeated Barcelona 2-1 in their friendly in Saitama north of Tokyo earlier this week in a game that saw the unofficial debuts of World Cup-winning French striker Antoine Griezmann and former Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
Manager Ernesto Valverde said he wanted to see the new arrivals getting used to playing with the team and hoped for a better result for Saturday’s match.
“I’m sure you saw the game the other day, in which they both played. I want them to play better than that with other players,” he said.
Defender Gerard Pique will not play on Saturday as a precaution due to discomfort in his left thigh, Valverde said.
Iniesta’s signing was viewed as a timely boost to the J-League, which once attracted luminaries such as Brazilian great Zico and former England striker Gary Lineker when it began in 1993 but has struggled to tempt marquee players in recent years.


Saudi electric car racer tastes victory in Mexico City E-Prix

Updated 18 February 2020

Saudi electric car racer tastes victory in Mexico City E-Prix

  • The first and second rounds of the championship were held on Nov. 22 and 23 at Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah venue

RIYADH: Saudi driver Fahad Algosaibi has secured a major victory in the Mexico City E-Prix.

The electric car racer won the Pro-Am class of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy and finished fourth overall in the third race of the 2019/20 season which took place on Feb. 15 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

The participation of Algosaibi and Capt. Mashour bin Hojaila, both of Team Saudi Racing, was sponsored by the General Sports Authority (GSA) and the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF).

Starting the race in pole position, Algosaibi recorded the fastest lap in his class, earning him extra points on top of those for pole position, to rank second in the championship on 36 points, just six behind Chinese driver Zhang Yaqi. Algosaibi also picked up points for not taking risks.

However, his teammate Hojaila ended up in hospital after his car was hit from behind by Chinese driver David Chang sending it crashing into a wall.

The organizing committee of the Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy Championship was forced to cancel qualifying trials due to the poor condition of the circuit in some newly paved sections and used the results of free trials to determine the starting lineup. This meant Algosaibi started first and Hojaila second in the Pro-AM class.

The first and second rounds of the championship were held on Nov. 22 and 23 at Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah venue.