Elkeson double on debut as China thrash Maldives

Myanmar's Thu Aung in action with Japan's Kento Hashimoto (top) during their Group A match. (Reuters )
Updated 11 September 2019

Elkeson double on debut as China thrash Maldives

  • Saudi Arabia, Yemen play out 2-2 draw; Japan, Philippines score first wins

DOHA: Brazil-born striker Elkeson struck twice on his debut to give China a crushing 5-0 win over Maldives in a World Cup qualifier in Male on Tuesday.

Chinese football authorities included the 30-year-old in the national side last month in a bid to improve their chances of qualifying for the 2022 tournament in Qatar and Elkeson lived up to expectations by netting two penalties late in the Group A match at the Rasmee Dhandu Stadium.

Despite its clout as a global sporting and financial power China have qualified for the World Cup only once, leading to a change in policy that now allows naturalized foreign-born players to play for the national team.

“We want to go to Qatar (2022 World Cup),” Chen Xuyuan, new president of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), was quoted as saying by state media last month.

“Naturalized players can be helpful in order to achieve the national team’s short-term goals.

“Up to now, clubs have registered nine naturalized players with or without Chinese heritage at the CFA in total, some of them are still going through the naturalization process.”

China dominated the game and were 2-0 up at half time with Wu Xi and Wu Lei finding the net in the 34th and 45th minute, respectively.

They then won three straight penalties, with Yang Xu first scoring from the spot in the 65th minute before Elkeson made his mark with seven minutes remaining and claimed his double in stoppage time to complete the rout.

Meanwhile, Asian champions and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar were held to a stunning goalless draw by India in Doha.

They thrashed Afghanistan in their opening Group E qualifier 6-0 but were thwarted by a spirited Indian defense led by goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu who brought off a string of saves at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

The visitors, who led Oman in their first match last week only to concede two late goals to go down 2-1, were without their talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri.

Earlier, Hong Kong fans booed their own national anthem and sang in protest against Beijing’s rule as months of political unrest spilled onto the football pitch in a 2-0 defeat to Iran.

The ear-splitting disgruntlement all but drowned out “March of the Volunteers,” the anthem the semi-autonomous territory shares with mainland China, at what was Hong Kong’s first home game after a summer of upheaval.

In Riffa, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia  and Yemen settled for a 2-2 draw.

Mohsen Mohamed put Yemen ahead in the eighth minute, but Saudi Arabia hit back through Hattan Bahebri in the 23rd to restore parity.

An Omar Al-Dahi strike in the 37th minute gave Yemen the lead once again but the Saudis equalized through Salem Al-Dawsari three minutes into the second half to clinch a draw.

Elsewhere, Australia thrashed Kuwait 3-0 with Mathew Leckie scoring twice, South Korea beat Turkmenistan 2-0, Thailand smashed Indonesia 3-0 and the UAE edged past Malaysia 2-1.

Earlier, the Philippines brushed aside Pacific islanders Guam 4-1 for their first win of the qualifiers, Tajikistan beat Mongolia 1-0 and Singapore were 2-1 winners over Palestine.

In Yangon, Porto midfielder Shoya Nakajima and Salzburg’s Takumi Minamino were on target as Japan began their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Myanmar.


Golf has big future in Saudi Arabia, says Prince Khalid

Updated 8 min 51 sec ago

Golf has big future in Saudi Arabia, says Prince Khalid

  • ‘There are many opportunities for Saudis to have a career in the golf industry’

JEDDAH: Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal has been visible in golf for as long as anyone can remember — even more so now in his role as adviser to the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Arab News caught up with Prince Khalid on Saturday, and the lifelong golfer with a single-digit handicap talked about the future of golf and its potential as an industry in Saudi Arabia in the buildup to the Saudi International.

The European Tour event is taking place this week at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with a star-studded field of 132 players vying for a prize fund of $3.5 million.

Prince Khalid said the two high-profile tournaments Saudi Arabia is hosting — the Saudi International and Saudi Ladies Championship in March — will show that golf can be a good career choice for women as well as men.

“There are many opportunities for Saudis to have a career in the golf industry. The golf industry encompasses hospitality, management, agronomy, real estate and a host of other professions as well as being a golf professional, both touring and teaching,” Prince Khalid said.

“With the ambitious plans for the Saudi game, supported by King Salman and with special support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, golf has a bright future, and should provide many job and career opportunities for Saudis, both male and female,” he said.

“With the support given to all sports by our leadership, Saudis now have the option to take up sports as a profession, and build a life and career out of it.

With the ambitious plans for the Saudi game, supported by King Salman and with special support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, golf has a bright future, and should provide many job and career opportunities for Saudis, both male and female.

Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal

“We have a national ladies team, alongside our junior and men’s teams, which is a wonderful development.

“The Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi under the direction of Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his right-hand man Majed Al-Sorour have developed wonderful plans for golf courses, academies, training programs and entertainment golf that will accelerate the spread of the sport in Saudi Arabia.”

“In addition to this, we have the professional men’s and ladies tournaments, and the prize money is an indication of the support given to golf,” Prince Khalid added.

The prince, son of the late Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal, thanked the crown prince for the support he has given to sports in general and to the “sport I live most in particular.”

Prince Khalid’s love affair with golf started late in his teen years.

“I started playing golf consistently when I was in my early 20s. Golf is a wonderful sport. It is one of the most difficult sports as well as one of the most rewarding, and can be played competitively and for fun with family and friends,” he said.