Palestinian girls compete in a rare Gaza boxing contest

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A Palestinian girl takes part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City November 20, 2020. (Reuters)
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Palestinian girls take part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City November 20, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 November 2020

Palestinian girls compete in a rare Gaza boxing contest

  • One boxer, Hala Ayoub, said she hoped the contest would show people that boxing is not only a man’s sport
  • “My ambition is to become a famous boxer and to raise the flag of Palestine,” said Ayoub

GAZA: Trading jabs and punches, young Palestinian girls competed in a female boxing tournament on Friday in the Gaza Strip, where the sport is mostly popular with men.
Friday’s contest featured female boxers as young as seven years old, and was attended by dozens of spectators.
One boxer, Hala Ayoub, said she hoped the contest would show people that boxing is not only a man’s sport.
“My ambition is to become a famous boxer and to raise the flag of Palestine and fight in local and international contests,” said Ayoub, 15.
“It (boxing) taught me how to defend myself, and how to release bad energy,” she said.
The number of female boxers in Gaza has doubled in the past six months since an initial 18-member all-girl team was formed. It now has 45 athletes, according to captain Osama Ayob.
Ali Abdel-Shafi, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Boxing Federation, said some of the girls from Friday’s competition would be selected to join the Palestinians’ boxing team and take part in a competition in Kuwait in February.
“This is the first championship I’ve taken part in...There is tension because of the audience and the noise but I am excited as well,” said Malak Mesleh, 15.
Women make up half of the Gaza Strip’s two million people.
Citing security concerns with Gaza’s ruling group Hamas, Israel and Egypt have long maintained border restrictions.


Beijing Guaon pounce on rusty Melbourne in 3-1 victory

Updated 25 November 2020

Beijing Guaon pounce on rusty Melbourne in 3-1 victory

  • The Chinese side have one foot in the last-16 of the Asian Champions League

DOHA: Beijing Guoan have one foot in the last-16 of the Asian Champions League after a convincing 3-1 win against a rusty Melbourne Victory side on Tuesday extended their perfect record in Group E to three from three.

Another Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua also improved their chances of qualification from Group F with their second win in three matches, edging past FC Tokyo 1-0, courtesy of a late penalty.

But it was Bruno Genesio’s Beijing outfit who sent out a strong warning to their rivals in the tournament by following up on their win over FC Seoul last week with another impressive performance in Doha where the tournament’s eastern zone matches are being played after a nine-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beijing clearly looked a class above Melbourne Victory who were largely lackluster both in attack and defense, with even the Australian side’s consolation goal late in the second half coming through a huge deflection from Kim Min-Jae after substitute Gianluca Ianucci’s powerful shot from nearly 25 yards appeared heading straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Beijing allowed their Australian rivals only 40 percent ball possession and that worked hugely in their favor as they created chances galore at the Al-Sadd Sports Club.

But once again, it was their Brazilian presence which played a pivotal role, with Renato Augusto and A Lan on target in the 22nd and 34th minutes before Wang Zimin’s brilliant goal in the 74th minute to put the match out of Victory’s reach.

Frenchman Genesio, who has been in charge at Beijing Guoan for almost 16 months, was not in a very celebratory mood despite his team’s 100 percent win record so far.

“In the first half we played really well as we tried high pressing as we trained before the game and were successful in keeping control,” said Genesio.

“The only thing I am disappointed about is that we conceded one goal towards the end. We need to be more serious and cautious towards the end of the game.”

Melbourne Victory, for whom this was their second defeat in three matches — their only win came in February against Chiangrai United — are now third in the standings and would need a herculean comeback to qualify for the knockout phase.

“For us, It’s not the result we wanted,” said Victory’s Steve Kean, whose side had no match practice for several months before heading to Doha. “This was our very first match of any type, we did not even play any friendlies and came against a Beijing side that have played a full season.

2We wanted to win and take points but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Shanghai Shenhua were celebrating their success over Tokyo FC after Yu Hanchao’s successful penalty in the 74th minute proved the decisive moment in the match.

“FC Tokyo is a great team but today we really wanted to limit their opportunities,” said Shenhua coach Choi Kang-hee.

“Our players really overcame their difficulties of fitness and fatigue. They persisted from the first minute until the end and I thank them for that.

“They showed great mental power and spirit and I believe they will get better from here,” he added.

Tokyo FC’s Kenta Hasegawa was clearly upset, although he was not losing hope yet despite his team being in third place in the standings with four points from three matches

“The result is disappointing. This was the first game in the AFC Champions League for many of our young players,” Hasegawa said.

“They were not ready for this game, but I am sure the will be ready for the next.”