Volleyball fans captivated by Al-Hilal’s victory in the Saudi Games 2023

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In the show jumping competition the Tuwaiq team won the gold medal, presented to them by Prince Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation, in Al-Janadriya on Thursday. (Supplied)
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Youth boxer Zeyad Majrashi of Al-Shabab Club won the gold in the 57 kg category. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 December 2023

Volleyball fans captivated by Al-Hilal’s victory in the Saudi Games 2023

  • Prince Abdullah bin Fahad crowns the equestrian champions
  • Secret behind Zeyad Majrashia’s success in making an ultimate comeback in boxing

RIYADH: A massive crowd of fans enjoyed a captivating volleyball performance on Thursday during the 2023 Saudi Games men’s volleyball final, where Al-Hilal beat title-holders Al-Ahli three sets to one.
Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Musaed, vice president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee and director of the Saudi Games, crowned Al-Hilal the 2023 gold medal winners at the Green Hall of the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex.
Al-Ittihad won the bronze medal after defeating Al-Nassr 3-1.
Meanwhile, Princess Delayel bint Nahar Al-Saud, deputy director of the Saudi Games, presented Al-Nassr’s women’s volleyball team with their gold medals after the defeated Al-Hilal 3-0.
Al-Ahli clinched the bronze medal in a tight match against Al-Anqaa, which finished 3-2.

Show jumping goes to Tuwaiq:
In the show jumping competition the Tuwaiq team won the gold medal, presented to them by Prince Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Saud, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation, in Al-Janadriya on Thursday.
Al-Mughyrat collected the silver medal and Al-Sakab got the bronze.

Seven athletes win gold:
First place in the men’s shot-put final was awarded to Mohamed Tolo of Al-Hilal club, while second was presented to Ali Mubarak of Al-Safa, with Al-Hilal’s Kaidallah Khalid finishing third.
In the men’s pole vault final, Al-Hilal’s Hussain Al-Hizam came first while Hashim Al-Sharfa of Mudhar came second ahead of Al-Safa’s Muhsin Al-Dabboos, who finished third.
First place in the men’s javelin throw was presented to Ali Abdulghani of Al-Noor while second was awarded to Al-Adalah’s Murtadh Al-Hamad, whose teammate Waleed Al-Hamad came third.
Meanwhile in the 1,500 meter men’s race, Al-Hilal’s Raed Al-Jadaani got the gold medal. Al-Safa’s Fayez Al-Subaie and Al-Hilal’s Mohamed Chewai won the silver and bronze respectively.
In the men’s 110 meter hurdles, Al-Khaleej’s Essa Jarahtook came first in front of Al-Ahli’s Mohamed Al-Jedaani and Al-Safa’s Baqer Al-Jumah.
Athlete Ali Mas of Al-Ahli club won the gold medal in the men’s 100 meter sprint. Al-Hilal’s Abdallah Mohamed won the silver, and Tabarjal’s Abdulaziz Atafi secured bronze.
In the youth men’s 100 meters, Hattan Majrashi of Al-Ahli came first, ahead of silver and bronze medalists Bdah Al-Beshi of Bishah club and Al-Safa’s Ali-Tawfeeq respectively.

Al-Ibtisam conquers gymnastics, winning five Medals:
Sulaiman bin Mohamed Al-Jasser, president of the Saudi Gymnastics Federation, crowned the winners of Thursday’s gymnastics competitions at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Al-Malaz Gymnastics Hall.
In the men’s rings final, first place was awarded to Al-Ibtisam’s Ali Al-Mobireek, second was presented to Al-Ittihad’s Nasser Al-Sumiri, and third went to Al-Ibtisam’s Hassan Al-Muwais.
In the men’s pommel horse finals, Al-Ibtisam’s Kadhem Al-Antaif ranked first ahead of his teammate Habeb Aswaileh. Abdulkarim Al-Mur, of Al-Ittihad, came third.
In the floor competitions, Al-Ittihad’s Abdulaziz Al-Johani won gold, Al-Ibtisam’s Jaffar Al-Sayigh took silver, and Manaf Al-Amri, also of Al-Ittihad, claimed bronze.

Kamel snatches karting gold:
Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, the chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, crowned the karting competition champions in Riyadh’s Dirab Square on Thursday. The competitions were conducted under the supervision of SAMF.
Abdullah Kamel was awarded the gold medal while Prince Saud Al-Saud took the silver. Khalid Shalash claimed the bronze.

Shooting gold goes to Al-Harbi:
On Thursday, the Vice President of the Saudi Shooting Federation Prince Khaled bin Bandar Al-Saud presented medals to the winners of the men’s skeet shooting category at the City Public Security Training Range. Fahad Al-Harbi won the gold, while Mohammed Al-Khamshi and Majed Al-Tamimi clinched silver and bronze respectively.

Al-Hilal come top in squash:
Saudi Squash Federation board member Dr. Maad Faisal Al-Saati presented the medals to the winners of the squash competition at King Saud University on Thursday. Al-Hilal’s Abdulrahman Mustafa won the gold, while Mohamed Al-Nasfan, the Al-Safa player, and Al-Hilal’s Abdulaziz Aburegah took silver and bronze.

Fifteen medals in boxing:
Abdullah Al-Harbi, the president of the Saudi Boxing Federation, presented the medals to male and female winners in boxing competitions at the King Saud University Swimming Hall.
Youth boxer Zeyad Majrashi won the gold in the 57 kg category, and Al-Hilal’s Mohamed Al-Kridis won the silver. Al-Shabab’s Abdulaziz Al-Otaibi and his club-mate Mohamed Zaybiof took bronze.
In the 63.5 kg competition, Al-Wehda’s Mousa Al-Hawsawi claimed the gold medal, while Riyadh Club Combat’s Abdelkarim Zridy won silver. Okaz’s Ahmed Monshi and Al-Shoulla’s Abdullah Mosa took bronze.
Ismaail Lagdachi, of Riyadh Combat Club, won the gold in the 75 kg division, followed by Damac’s Hassan Mohamed Kaabi with silver. Al-Hada’s Mohamed Al-Amari and Riyadh’s Karim Hamzaoui took bronze.
In the 92 kg category, Al-Wehda’s Mohamed Al-Suphi won the gold while Al-Orobah’s Wesam Al-Alawi won the silver. Al-Ittihad’s Sultan Al-Musaed and Al-Ahli’s Mohamed Eljzzar took bronze.

Three shine in women’s boxing:
In the women’s boxing, Al-Shabab’s Sarah Al-Shahrani won the gold in the 50 kg division, ahead of Al-Taraji’s Kalthoom Hantool who took silver. Hala Al-Rashidi of Al-Ahli and Al-Shabab’s Yara Al-Amri won bronze.
Al-Orobah’s Majda Lidali topped the 57 kg division, and Al-Riyadh’s Ragad Al-Naimi came second. Al-Shabab’s Hanan Al-Subaie and Al-Ittihad’s Nada Al-Maimani made up the rest of the podium.

Boxing finals:
In the youth boxing competitions, Al-Ahli’s Ibrahim Juhani won the 48 kg category gold. The silver medal was presented to Al-Shabab’s Mohannad Majrashi while the bronze went to Al-Hilal’s Abdul Majeed Al-Zahrani and Al-Wehda’s Ahmed Samer Al-Shawi.
Fawaz Al-Luhaybi of Feid Club won the 57 kg category’s gold medal. Al-Shabab’s Adel Al-Motirii, clinched the silver while Al-Ahli’s Yazan Al-Ghamdi and Al-Shabab’s Hamad Ali Zaybi shared the bronze.
In the men’s 67 kg weight, first place went to Al-Diraiyah’s Majed Mjahid while second was presented to Al-Ahli’s Abdulaziz Yahya. The bronze medal was awarded to Al-Ittihad’s Mohamed Al-Soq and Al-Shabab’s Saud Soqaty.
In the 80 kg division, Al-Ittihad’s Youssef Elyas won the gold, and Al-Ahli’s Firas Salem took silver. Al-Wehda’s Mohamed Al-Ahmad and Al-Shoulla’s Faris Al-Waheed shared the bronze.

Individuals bowling finals:
Abdul-Malik Al-Shathri, president of the Saudi Bowling Federation, crowned the winners of the men’s and women’s individual bowling competitions at Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex Bowling Center.
Abdulrahman Al-Kheliwi bagged the individual men’s gold ahead of Ahmed Abulresh who won the silver and Nawaf Tamimi who took bronze.
In the women’s competition, Jenice Dela came first, Sedrah Rafiq clinched the second place and Sharmaine Patayan came in third place.

Reda and Al-Ghamedi win the baloot gold medal:
Prince Fahd bin Jalawi bin Musaed, vice president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the director of the Saudi Games, presented the gold medal to Mohamed Reda and Abdulaziz Al-Ghamedi, the baloot duo who achieved a 2-0 victory in the finals against Fawaz Turkistani and Anas Al-Zahrani. The bronze medal was awarded to Abdulrahman Al-Kuwaiz and Sami Al-Angari.

Majrashia dedicates year of intensive training to win gold in boxing
Unveiling the secret to his success of winning the 2023 Saudi Games’ gold medal in the 57 kg division, boxer Zeyad Majrashia of Al-Shabab Club said: “After losing to Al-Hilal player Mohamed Al-Kraidis and securing the silver medal in the 2022 Saudi Games, I dedicated a year of intensive training while working on my mental game. My goal was to return for the gold medal, and I achieved it.
“The conditions were set for a rematch against the same opponent who defeated me last year, fulfilling my lifelong dream in a sport I began playing at the age of 10. I have proudly represented the Saudi national team in various international arenas. This gold medal is the most meaningful achievement in my career, and I’m determined to bring home more medals for the Kingdom in global championships,” he concluded.

SAFF: 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship ‘will be the first of many’ tournaments held in Kingdom

Updated 01 March 2024

SAFF: 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship ‘will be the first of many’ tournaments held in Kingdom

  • Jordan defeat Nepal in penalty shoot-out to claim victory in 1st official 11-a-side women’s tournament held in Kingdom
  • Saudi officials hail ‘exciting new era for professional women’s football’ after milestone event draws nationwide interest

RIYADH: The latest chapter in Saudi Arabia’s football evolution came to a close last weekend as the 2024 West Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship — the first official 11-a-side women’s tournament held in the Kingdom — reached its conclusion. 

A milestone occasion that attracted nationwide interest and engagement, the eighth edition of the championship was staged in Jeddah throughout its 11-day duration from Feb. 19 to Feb. 29 as seven countries competed alongside the host nation.

Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Nepal, Palestine, Syria and Guam joined Saudi Arabia with fixtures played at the King Abdullah Sports City and Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Sport City stadiums. A total of 15 matches were played across the group and knock-out stages.

The final was played in front of over 4,000 fans at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Sport City Stadium and ended 2-2 after full time, with Jordan winning the tournament via a penalty shoot-out against Nepal in Thursday’s final.

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation’s message following the 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship was clear — this debut official 11-a-side women’s tournament on home soil “will be the first of many.”

“We promise that the 2024 WAFF Women’s Championship is the start of an exciting new era for professional women’s football in Saudi Arabia,” Lamia Bahaian, vice president of the federation, said in a statement.

“Besides showcasing our hosting credentials to the region and wider world, it has paved the way for more competitions to make their way to our shores in the years ahead. For sure, this will be the first of many.”

Bahaian said that the women’s game is inspiring audiences as a driving force for positive change, with the Saudi Arabia women’s national team “instrumental” to the direction of travel.

“Reaction to the tournament and the way it was received by fans and the wider community was incredible — witnessing fans embrace the competition, get behind our women’s national team, and attend matches was a genuine joy,” she said.

“Our national team has been instrumental here. The players are pursuing their dreams and representing their country for everyone to see. This has helped introduce women’s football to audiences new and old, laying new foundations for sustained growth and development while contributing to a positive shift in wider society.”

Underpinned by a strategy to help elevate Saudi Arabia to elite status in world football by 2034, huge strides have been taken in the last few years, with growth witnessed across a series of key metrics. 

Since 2021, the number of female clubs nationwide has increased by 112 percent, with the number of local players up 150 percent and national teams up 300 percent.

Jeddah race to showcase Red Sea city’s charm

Updated 29 February 2024

Jeddah race to showcase Red Sea city’s charm

  • Half marathon hosted by Saudi Sports for All Federation, Historic Jeddah Program
  • Runners of all ages, abilities will pass famous landmarks over 4 routes

JEDDAH: Runners in Jeddah will take in the city’s charming sights on March 3 during a half marathon hosted by the Saudi Sports for All Federation and Historic Jeddah Program.
The event will include four routes for male and female runners of all ages and fitness levels.
The Historic Jeddah Program was launched by the Saudi Ministry of Culture to elevate the Red Sea port city as a key center of heritage within the Kingdom.
Bab Jadid, known as Jeddah Old Gate, will serve as the start and finish line for all race routes.
Adults can take part in the half marathon distance of 21 km, while the 10 km race is open to runners aged 12 and above.
Meanwhile, the two other races of 4 km and 1 km are open to runners of all ages and fitness levels, including those with special needs or disabilities.
The event will feature a range of activities within the race village, which is welcoming visitors starting Thursday.
Musical and cultural shows will be held, alongside a range of traditional food offerings for visitors.
The race routes pass by charming streets and famous historical landmarks, including Naseef House, the Al-Matbouli Museum, Al-Jafali Mosque, King Fahd Fountain and the Jeddah Corniche.

First La Liga Futures competition in Saudi Arabia kicks off March 1

Updated 29 February 2024

First La Liga Futures competition in Saudi Arabia kicks off March 1

  • The U-14 tournament, hosted at Mahd Sports Academy in Riyadh, will feature 8 La Liga and 4 international teams

MADRID: La Liga FC Futures U-14, a flagship tournament featuring the youth academies of top-tier Spanish clubs, and being held in Saudi Arabia for the first time, kicks off on March 1.

The matches, to be played at Mahd Sports Academy in Riyadh, has been organized in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sports. For the first time, the players making up the competing sides will be in the under-14 category and will play 11-a-side matches.

The tournament will feature 12 clubs, eight EA Sports La Liga teams, plus AS Roma (Italy), SL Benfica (Portugal), Olympique de Marseille (France) and Mahd Academy (Saudi Arabia).

La Liga’s leadership chose Saudi Arabia as the host because of the country’s emergence as a hub for sporting and cultural activities in recent years. The most popular sport in the Kingdom is football, with the highest level of participation among those under the age of 30.

For the past 15 years, La Liga matches have been followed by millions of football fans across the Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia now has six official supporter clubs.

The 12 teams will be divided into three groups: Mahd Academy, FC Barcelona, AS Roma and Cadiz CF (Group A); Atletico de Madrid, Olympique de Marseille, Sevilla FC and Villarreal CF (Group B); and Real Betis, Valencia CF, SL Benfica and CA Osasuna (Group C).

Matches will kick off on March 1 at 9:30 a.m. (Saudi Arabia time) and March 2 at 10 a.m., with the quarterfinals being played on Saturday at 5 p.m. The semifinals will kick off at 10 a.m. on Sunday, with the final at 5 p.m.

Saudi Paralympic weightlifters participate in Dubai’s Fazza Para powerlifting championships

Updated 28 February 2024

Saudi Paralympic weightlifters participate in Dubai’s Fazza Para powerlifting championships

  • Saudi participants who win gold, silver or bronze qualify for Paris 2024 Olympics
  • Mohammed Al-Harbi, president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, heads 12-player team

DUBAI: The Saudi Paralympic weightlifting team hopes taking part in the Fazza 13th Para Powerlifting 2024 World Cup will mean qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The championships, which started on Wednesday, are being held in Dubai until Mar. 6. Saudi participants who win gold, silver or bronze medals are automatically eligible for the 2024 Olympics.
Mohammed Al-Harbi, president of the Saudi Weightlifting Federation, heads a 12-strong team that comprises Adnan Bousaid, Talal Al-Balawi, Asil Hausawi, Tariq Balghaith, Saeed Hausawi, Khalid Al-Najim, Sulaiman Al-Shaddoukhi, Abbad Hausawi, Fajr Al-Sumairy, Shareefa Al-Amari, Hassna Al-Najm, and Maha Al-Rashidi.

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl continue to set pace at the top of the table

Updated 26 February 2024

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl continue to set pace at the top of the table

  • Reigning champions Shabab Al-Ahli return to winning ways, while Al-Ain stay in second with win over Baniyas

Al-Wasl’s searing pace at the top of the standings continued, champions Shabab Al-Ahli returned to winning ways and there was more misery for promoted clubs during the ADNOC Pro League’s matchweek 14.

A first full schedule since late December — a lengthy pause for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup was extended by multiple weather postponements — began with bottom-placed Emirates Club and second-bottom Hatta suffering 10th defeats of the season.

Goals for Raniel, on 10 seconds, and Uzbekistan midfielder Azizbek Amonov helped Khor Fakkan prevail 2-0 against the latter, while rampant Wasl breezed past the former via the same scoreline thanks to efforts from nine-goal UAE forward Fabio De Lima and prolific South Korea center-back Jung Seung-hyun. They now lead the table by eight points.

Shabab Al-Ahi, meanwhile, had a trio of Brazil-born scorers to thank when they ended a two-match winless streak in their comfortable 3-0 victory versus 12th-placed Ajman. Also, a 94th-minute tap-in from promising youngster Josna Epifani Loulendo kept the 2023-2024 AFC Champions League quarterfinalists Al-Ain in the hunt with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Baniyas.

There was drama in Abu Dhabi when Mirel Radoi’s league bow for Al-Jazira ended in a 3-2 defeat to Alfred Schreuder’s rapidly improving Al-Nasr, featuring iconic striker Ali Mabkhout’s 96th-minute saved penalty. Also, Caio netted when Sharjah beat Ittihad Kalba 1-0 and Al-Wahda came from behind to down Al-Bataeh 2-1.

Here are Arab News’ top picks and a talking point from the latest action.

Player of the week: Igor Jesus (Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club)

It has been an eventful few weeks for Shabab Al-Ahli’s prodigiously talented, but injury impacted, youngster.

Months of speculation about a return to Brazil or a move to Europe’s major leagues looked to have been ended by this month’s announcement that Igor Jesus had gained Emirati citizenship. It has put the 22-year-old on a fast track to eventually represent the UAE senior side, which is a major boost following January’s disappointing round-of-16 exit at the Asian Cup.

On the pitch, the ex-Coritiba attacker has been rarely seen this term. Yet more knee problems had restricted him to just five league run-outs across 201 minutes, prior to Sunday’s visit of Ajman.

If anyone needed a reminder about Jesus’ residual ability, it came versus the Orange Brigade.

A precision-guided seventh-minute corner from UAE prospect Harib Abdalla was nodded home. Jesus would add an assist to his name in the second half when he played in Guilherme Bala, another naturalized Emirati/Brazilian, who did the rest with an adroit turn and impudent low finish.

The ice pack applied to Jesus’ leg showed caution when he was called off to the bench which included an instant debut for prominent Iran center midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi.

There is such youth and electricity among Shabab Al-Ahli’s attacking options. They must regularly spark to stand any chance of hauling back Wasl.

Goal of the week: Ahmad Nourollahi (Al-Wahda)

Ahmad Nourollahi’s garlanded career has contained many standout moments.

From representing his nation at the 2022 World Cup, to hoarding trophies with Persepolis and adding last season’s ADNOC Pro League crown to his resume at Shabab Al-Ahli.

Acrobatic scissor kicks, however, were not associated with him. That is, before, Sunday’s comeback triumph at Bataeh.

A hopeful cross from right-back Abdullah Al-Karbi was hung up towards the penalty box. There appeared little danger, at this point.

Nourollahi’s lethal combination of athleticism and imagination then sent the ball arrowing into the bottom corner, at the start of the second half. This would propel fifth-placed Wahda to victory, earned through impressive Uzbekistan winter recruit Khojimat Erkinov.

Coach of the week: Alfred Schreuder (Al-Nasr)

UAE football’s sleeping giant is showing signs of stirring.

Nasr have had the history, glamorous Dubai location and outstanding Al-Maktoum Stadium, plus a list of stellar previous players that includes Yohan Cabaye, Alvaro Negredo and Luca Toni. Yet even the hint of glory has eluded them for so long.

This might be changing under Schreuder. The former Ajax and Al-Ain tactician inspired a third win from their last five league run-outs at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

It came through a blend of ex-Benfica maestro Adel Taarabt, plus young stars Abdoulaye Toure and Moussa Ndiaye.

Nasr are now comfortably midtable in seventh, after flirting with relegation under Goran Tufegdzic.

It is now up to the club to provide Schreuder with the order required to create sustained success. With six permanent managers since October 2019, this is not guaranteed.

Assessing Al-Ain’s Asian outlook

Al-Ain are flying the flag for their nation in next month’s AFC Champions League quarterfinals.

No less than Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr await on March 4 and 11, in a West Asia side of the draw packed by three heavyweight Saudi Arabian challengers.

The task is a stern one if The Boss are to add to their 2002-2003 continental title. Certainly, it will require improvement from their last-gasp victory at Baniyas Stadium.

Those three points, however, came at a cost with leading 11-goal marksman Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba being removed through injury. There is no natural replacement for the Togo star within their ranks.

South Korea anchorman Park Yong-woo has gone deep into this tournament before at Ulsan Hyundai.

Steady progress under legendary ex-Argentine, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo has seen six wins accrued from their last seven matches in all competitions. The Boss are also second domestically, with a game in hand.

Crucially, Crespo must learn lessons from the February 2023 7-0 blitzing of his Al-Duhail side by holders Al-Hilal.