Valencia boss praises Saudi Arabia’s vision for sports

Valencia President Anil Murthy during the press conference on Tuesday. (Photo/Supplied)
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Updated 08 January 2020

Valencia boss praises Saudi Arabia’s vision for sports

  • Murthy hopes to beat Real Madrid and reach the final match of the Spanish Super Cup against the winner of the Barcelona-Atletico Madrid semifinal

JEDDAH: Valencia are hoping to open their own football academy in Saudi Arabia, Anil Murthy, club president, said on Tuesday.

Murthy expressed his admiration for Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), after the prince spoke about his vision for sports and the development of young Saudis during his recent visit in Spain.

“Therefore, it is our duty to reach those young Saudis and hopefully soon we will plan to open our own football academy here in Saudi Arabia and reach those talented Saudi players, in addition to increasing the popularity of Valencia among Saudi fans who are known for their passion for football,” Murthy said.

Murthy was speaking ahead of the Spanish club’s semifinal match against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday at King Abdullah Al-Jawhara International Stadium.

“We do appreciate the great hospitality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since we arrived, and we are really looking forward to playing in front of Saudi fans here,” Murthy said.

Murthy and the Valencia delegation arrived in Jeddah on Monday night.

Since he joined the club a little over two years ago, Valencia’s 46-year-old Singaporean president said that he has been focused on a strategy that prioritizes growth at home and abroad.

Murthy warned that the club needed to remain sustainable in the long-term by working within its “limitations and constraints.”

“We don’t have a lot of money like other clubs to buy the best players in the world but we put our resources in the best place. We invest mostly in young players because we know these players are the future of the club and this is what keeps the club stable. This is our value,” he said.

“We must build a club structure which works and which is sustainable. Not for one season, but for many years to come. That is the ultimate goal.”

“Clubs who only work for the short term often end up suffering because of financial difficulties.”

Of the death threats he received as the president of Valencia, Murthy said: “Yes, it happened but this can happen from criminals and they are a minority. The only way to solve this issue, we expelled the violent from the stadium and things are now OK.”

Murthy hopes to beat Real Madrid and reach the final match of the Spanish Super Cup against the winner of the Barcelona-Atletico Madrid semifinal, and win it with the support of Valencia’s fans in Saudi Arabia.

Prior to his role at Valencia, Murthy was a diplomat with the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, specializing in European affairs. He was deputy chief of mission in Paris and concurrently permanent delegate to UNESCO for four years. He has nearly 16 years of experience with the Singapore government, advising ministers on public policies ranging from trade to culture and diplomacy.


Lewandowski scores 30th goal of season as Bayern close on title

Updated 07 June 2020

Lewandowski scores 30th goal of season as Bayern close on title

  • Bayern struck twice in quick succession just before half-time to turn the game in their favor

BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski scored his 30th league goal of the season on Saturday as Bayern Munich came from behind to claim a 4-2 victory at Bayer Leverkusen and move a step closer to the Bundesliga title.

After Lucas Alario secured an early lead for the home side, Bayern struck twice in quick succession just before half-time to turn the game in their favor after Kingsley Coman’s equalizer.

Lewandowski netted in the second half as Bayern established a 10-point lead over title rivals Borussia Dortmund, who host Hertha Berlin later on Saturday.

The game also saw Bayern lend their support to protests over the death of black American man George Floyd, with all their players wearing armbands bearing the slogan “Black Lives Matter.”

With their talisman and Bayern transfer target Kai Havertz ruled out with a muscle injury, Leverkusen turned to Alario to lead the line against the champions.

The Argentine delivered after just 9 minutes, beating the offside trap after a throw-in to slot the ball past Manuel Neuer.

A mistake from Moussa Diaby allowed Coman to curl in the equalizer, before a fizzing shot from Leon Goretzka and an elegant lob from Serge Gnabry saw Bayern take a 2-goal lead before half-time.

Lewandowski finished the job with a well-placed header after the break, reaching the 30-goal mark for only the second time in his Bundesliga career, but there was still time for 17-year-old Florian Wirtz to curl in a consolation goal for Leverkusen before the final whistle.

Elsewhere, a late equalizer from Christian Strohdiek gave bottom-of-the-table Paderborn a faint glimmer of hope in the race for survival, as they snatched a 1-1 draw away to RB Leipzig.

Chelsea-bound Leipzig striker Timo Werner set up Patrik Schick on 27 minutes to give Leipzig the lead, but they were forced to defend it with 10 men after Dayot Upamecano was booked twice in the first half.

Strohdiek’s last-minute strike gave Paderborn their fourth draw in five games, though Steffen Baumgart’s side remain 8 points off Fortuna Duesseldorf who occupy the relegation playoff place.

Duesseldorf themselves missed the chance to move toward safety, as they battled to a dramatic 2-2 draw against 10-man Hoffenheim.

A headed opener from Rouwen Hennings and a red card for Hoffenheim’s Benjamin Huebner put the home side in pole position, but the visitors struck back with goals from Munas Dabbur and Steven Zuber before Hennings saved a point with a late penalty.

Uwe Roesler’s side remain 3 points adrift of survival, after goals from Moussa Niakhate and Pierre Kunde Malong gave fellow strugglers Mainz a rare 2-0 win over local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt.