Conflict forces Palestinian team Jabal Al Mukaber to withdraw from AFC Cup

Short Url
Updated 09 December 2023
Follow

Conflict forces Palestinian team Jabal Al Mukaber to withdraw from AFC Cup

  • The withdrawal means all of Jabal Al Mukaber’s results will be canceled and considered null and avoid

Palestinian club Jabal Al Mukaber have withdrawn from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup as a result of the Israel-Gaza conflict, the region’s governing body has announced.
A statement on the AFC’s official website said the Palestine Football Association had informed the Kuala Lumpur-based organization of Jabal Al Mukaber’s decision to pull out of the continent’s second-tier club competition.
“The AFC notes the club’s withdrawal with regret and the matter has now been referred to the AFC Competitions Committee for relevant further action, including the recognition of force majeure,” the confederation said.
Jabal Al Mukaber had been drawn in Group A of the competition and had won their opening game 1-0 against Syria’s Al-Futuwa before losing 4-0 to Al-Nahda from Oman prior to the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
The withdrawal means all of Jabal Al Mukaber’s results will be canceled and considered null and avoid, in accordance with AFC tournament regulations.
The move is the latest to affect Palestinian teams as a result of the conflict.
The Palestinian national team’s World Cup qualifier against Australia last month, which was due to be played in the West Bank, was moved to Kuwait due to security concerns.


UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl maintain 8-point lead over Al-Ain at top of table

Al-Wasl have an 8-point lead over Al-Ain at the top of the ADNOC Pro League. (@AlWaslSC)
Updated 5 sec ago
Follow

UAE Pro League review: Al-Wasl maintain 8-point lead over Al-Ain at top of table

  • Walter Zenga’s Emirates endure another defeat, look set for drop

DUBAI: Relentless leaders Al-Wasl heaped pressure on Cosmin Olaroiu’s underperforming Sharjah, Spain icon Andres Iniesta’s sinking Emirates Club looked doomed, and Farhad Majidi’s inconsistent Ittihad Kalba-reign was brought to an ignominious end during ADNOC Pro League’s matchweek 15.

Friday’s grandstand clash in Dubai witnessed goals from Abdulrahman Saleh and outstanding UAE attacker Ali Saleh to maintain Al-Wasl’s grip on their first title since 2006-07 with a 2-0 triumph, while pushing star-studded Sharjah 13 points off the pace.

On the same evening, Tunisia playmaker Haykeul Chikhaoui’s ferocious opener sent improving Ajman on their way to a 2-0 win which moved them nine points away from danger and pushed Walter Zenga’s bottom-placed Emirates – enduring a 10-match losing streak – eight points from safety.

Fellow promoted outfit Hatta showed fight in a 5-3 reversal at AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Al-Ain and third-placed holders Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club required an instant brace by substitute Yuri Cesar in an eventual 3-0 victory at 10-man Khor Fakkan.

Shambolic defending caused 13th-placed Kalba’s 2-1 loss to Al-Bataeh and was followed by the exit of former Iran under-23 and Esteghlal boss Majidi after almost two years at the helm. Ex-Brazil and Napoli defensive midfielder Allan netted an unlikely pair to hand Al-Wahda the Abu Dhabi Derby spoils in a pulsating 3-2 defeat for Mirel Radoi’s unconvincing Al-Jazira, while Alfred Schreuder’s flourishing Al-Nasr rose to sixth with a 1-0 triumph versus Baniyas – their fourth in five top-flight fixtures.

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

Player of the week: Allan (Al-Wahda)

Al-Wahda supporters could have been tricked into thinking they had landed Kaka, instead of Allan.

Their skipper’s granite reputation was earned via winning countless midfield battles in Serie A and the Premier League, rather than through artfully dispatched doubles.

Saturday’s unexpected turn, however, made all the difference on home soil when they welcomed floundering near-neighbors Al-Jazira to Al-Nahyan Stadium.

It was quite the way to open his ADNOC Pro League account, after being recruited back in September 2022.

A deft dummied shot and incisive strike through numerous flailing Pride of Abu Dhabi-defenders made it 2-0 on 41 minutes. The 33-year-old had also clipped in the 17th-minute free-kick from which on-form Iran midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi eventually back-heel half-volleyed the opener.

Even better was to come past the hour mark. By that point, a frantic derby had swung back toward the Pride of Abu Dhabi after ex-Fulham player Neeskens Kebano struck twice to make it 2-2.

Allan’s stepover at pace on the edge of the penalty box sent retreating Moroccan youngster Mohammed Rabii off balance, prior to lashing into the roof of stranded UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif’s net. It was a fitting winner for a high-quality and high-drama clash.

For fourth-placed Al-Wahda, January’s call to draft in former Ajman miracle-worker Goran Tufegdzic has been rewarded with seven points from nine. Al-Jazira, meanwhile, are yet to ignite since snaffling ex-Romania boss Radoi from Bataeh and slipped to seventh.

Goal of the week: Ali Saleh (Al-Wasl)

Whatever challenge is put in front of Al-Wasl, they have got the firepower to overcome it.

Their ninth win from their last 10 top-flight outings was sealed by homegrown hero Saleh.

The 24-year-old collected UAE colleague Caio Canedo’s flicked header, composed himself and then curled past helpless Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al-Hosani from 20 yards. It was a beautiful way to produce a seventh goal contribution in 14 matches.

Al-Wasl remain in control of their title destiny, eight-points ahead of Al-Ain with a game extra played. It also feels increasingly perplexing why Saleh was handed just 210 minutes on the way to the UAE’s dispiriting round-of-16 exit at 2023 Asian Cup.

Coach of the week: Daniel Isaila (Ajman)

A fine rescue job is being performed by Daniel Isaila at 11th-placed Ajman.

Last season’s dark horses in sixth spot had rapidly declined to relegation certainties under Caio Zanardi. Friday’s consummate win against Emirates featured 13 attempts on target to the visitors’ three, even with Iniesta starting in the league for the first time since Dec. 1.

Isaila has transformed horizons since October’s hire. The acumen which evolved outsiders Baniyas into shock 2020/21 runners-up has been transplanted at Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Stadium.

What to do with Olaroiu?

It is not unfair, or unkind, to expect far more from fifth-placed Sharjah.

Their third league loss of a befuddling campaign has kept The King far away from the crown. A points deficit counted in double digits with 11 matches still to play was not expected when the 2023-24 season kicked off.

It is an unbalanced team which is performing below the sum of their parts. Worryingly, serial trophy hoarder Olaroiu’s once-golden touch appears to be waning.

“I am not the one who makes the decisions regarding contracts with players,” was the Romanian’s pointed comment post-match, according to Dubai Sports.

What happens next is the glaring question.

Sharjah’s 11 at Zabeel Stadium contained ex-Barcelona and Juventus superstar Miralem Pjanic, ex-Porto and Al-Hilal attacker Moussa Marega, 184-goal UAE veteran Sebastian Tagliabue, and South Korea’s World Cup 2022 performer Cho Yu-min. They boasted more possession (55 percent/45 percent) and attempts (14/12), yet Al-Wasl’s greater desire proved crucial.

Last season’s disappointing seventh-place finish was forgiven, amid an unprecedented sweep of four domestic trophies. This term, however, has been stained by group-stage collapse in the AFC Champions League, quarter-final elimination in the ADIB Cup, a 6-2 humiliation to Shabab Al-Ahli in the UAE Super Cup, and failure to threaten in the ADNOC Pro League.

Schreuder’s ascendant Al-Nasr and Al-Ain await, either side of the international break. This could be a situation careering toward breaking point.


Sharjah rookie grabs dramatic win as Team Abu Dhabi get top 10 finish

Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Sharjah rookie grabs dramatic win as Team Abu Dhabi get top 10 finish

  • Rusty Wyatt makes perfect start at Grand Prix of Indonesia, the opening race of the 2024 UIM F1H2O World Championship

ABU DHABI: Sharjah rookie Rusty Wyatt recorded a dramatic victory in the Grand Prix of Indonesia today as Team Abu Dhabi battled through a tough start to the 2024 UIM F1H2O World Championship.

Reigning world champion Jonas Andersson looked poised for a record fifth race win in a row but dropped to third place as Wyatt and Victory Team’s Erik Stark both passed him in a sensational finish.

Making his Team Abu Dhabi debut and starting down the field after a broken engine in qualifying, Alberto Comparato climbed seven places on the day to finish inside the top 10.

The young Italian will now be aiming for a big improvement on his ninth place when the second round at the end of this month introduces Vietnam as the latest new championship venue.

His Abu Dhabi teammate, Thani Al-Qemzi, will equally be looking for a change in fortunes next time out. Starting his 153rd Grand Prix in ninth spot following a disappointing qualifying run, the veteran Emirati driver reached the finish in seventh place. He later collected a one-lap penalty for a start infringement and dropped to 12th.

After a false start caused by a technical issue, Stark looked to have grabbed an important advantage over Andersson as he squeezed past his fellow Swede on the first lap before the race was halted when Ferdinand Zandbergen crashed out.

Andersson regained control from the re-start and shrugged off several attacks by Stark before the final lap saw them tussling for the win down the last straight, both boats slowing with technical issues.

As the Victory driver squeezed ahead, Wyatt powered his way through on the outside right at the finish to become the first rookie to win a Grand Prix. Sharjah’s Canadian driver takes an immediate lead in the championship from Stark, and Al-Qemzi and Comparato will be determined to ensure that the UAE has three teams challenging for honors as the season progresses.

Team Abu Dhabi have secured 17 world championship titles since Guido Cappellini took over as team manager in 2015, and the Italian racing legend is determined to deliver more success to Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Club.

His meticulous planning and attention to detail will be aimed at giving Al-Qemzi and Comparato a significant boost to see them challenging for podium places in Vietnam.


Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18

Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Green snatches HSBC Women's World Championship with dramatic birdie on 18

  • Green completed a hat trick of birdies over the closing holes to snatch victory when her snaking putt on the 18th green curled into the cup to a huge ovation
  • It was the Australian’s first win in Asia and also eased the heartbreak of finishing second in Singapore three years ago

SINGAPORE: Australia’s Hannah Green drained a remarkable 30-foot birdie putt at the final hole to edge Celine Boutier of France and win the HSBC Women’s World Championship by a stroke in Singapore on Sunday.

The US LPGA Tour’s flagship event in Asia had looked like it was heading for a playoff after Boutier’s 5-under 67 put her in the clubhouse at 12-under par and for Green to draw level with birdies at the 16th and 17th.

But the Australian completed a hat trick of birdies over the closing holes to snatch victory when her snaking putt on the 18th green curled into the cup to a huge ovation.

“I knew I needed to at least birdie the last to win by one,” said world No. 29 Green, who was drenched in champagne by her fellow Australian competitors in celebration after finishing the tournament on 13-under 275.

“As soon as that putt went in, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’ve won!’,” said the 27-year-old, who lifted her fourth LPGA Tour title.

“You have to take these highs when they come because it doesn’t always come and golf can be a learning sport sometimes.

“Celine played great today but she didn’t end up with the trophy in her hands. But she should still be proud of how she performed under this pressure,” said Green.

It was the Australian’s first win in Asia and also eased the heartbreak of finishing second in Singapore three years ago.

“I almost won the championship in 2021 when I was playing it for the first time,” said Green.

“I remembered I three-putted 17 and then three-putted again on 18 to lose. It feels great to have this trophy in my hands now.”

Playing in the group ahead of Green on the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club, Boutier was unable to make a birdie over her closing holes to put pressure on the Australian and missed a great chance on 17.

“I knew my putt (on 17) was going to be important but it ended up being short-sided. It was frustrating,” said world No. 3 Boutier.

“I gave myself chances. I made some putts and also missed some. But such things happen and I can’t be too mad about my round today.”

Ko Jin-young of South Korea, who was defending her 2022 and 2023 titles, briefly threatened to get into the mix when she drained a monster 90-foot birdie putt at the 11th.

But two bogeys followed and her 1-under 71 saw her finish six shots behind Green on 7-under 281.

Japan’s Ayaka Furue took a two-shot lead into the final round Sunday but had a day to forget, completing a 3-over card of 75 with a scruffy double bogey at the 18th to finish six behind playing partner Green.

World No. 1 Lilia Vu, who started the day five shots back of the lead, withdrew during her final round because of illness.


Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm

Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Record-setting Bol, Holloway shine at world indoors as Doom thwarts Warholm

  • Holloway made no mistake in the 60m hurdles, an event in which he has remarkably not lost since he was 16, stretching over 74 races
  • Bol once again stole the show, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion bettering her own world indoor record to 49.17 seconds to win the 400m

GLASGOW: Record-setting Femke Bol proved unstoppable and Grant Holloway extended his 10-year win streak at a high-octane second day of the world indoor championships in Glasgow on Saturday that also featured double British gold.

Bol once again stole the show, the two-time world 400m hurdles champion bettering her own world indoor record to 49.17 seconds to win the 400m, leading from gun to tape in an exceptional display of running.

“It was amazing. It was such a strong race. I knew I had to go out fast,” said the Dutch athlete after sending a warning to potential rivals at this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm, like Bol an elite hurdler seeking a pre-Paris Games workout over the 400m flat, was undone by hard-charging Belgian Alexander Doom.

But the Norwegian, the world record holder, three-time outdoor champion and Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles, was not too upset by the result.

“All in all, it’s an acceptable time, so it’s OK,” he said. “It was a last-minute decision to come here. Of course, I wish I had won today but it was so nice coming out here and performing in front of all that noise.”

Holloway made no mistake in the 60m hurdles, an event in which he has remarkably not lost since he was 16, stretching over 74 races.

He matched his own championship record of 7.29sec for a totally dominant victory.

“The streak is for you guys, I come out here and get to the finish line before everyone else!” said Holloway, the three-time 110m hurdles world champion.

There was a particularly British, and notably Scottish, tang to the evening session, with Molly Caudrey, Josh Kerr and Laura Muir guaranteeing a raucous home welcome at a packed-out Emirates Arena.

Caudrey and Kerr came good, winning the women’s pole vault and men’s 3000m to help set the stage for a thrilling night of track and field.

It climaxed with Saint Lucia’s Julien Alfred reeling in fast-starting Pole Ewa Swoboda for gold in the women’s 60m.

Alfred clocked 6.98sec, two-hundredths ahead of Swoboda, with Italy’s Zaynab Dosso taking bronze (7.05).

“Losing last season at the world championships and coming that close to a medal in both the 100m and the 200m, gave me a boost,” said Alfred.

“I was very hungry coming to the next season.”

There was a shock in the women’s 3000m as American Elle St. Pierre dug deep to outsprint massive Ethiopian favorite Gudaf Tsegay down the home stretch for victory in 8min 20.87sec to shatter, by 13sec, the championship record set by Dutchwoman Elly Van Hulst in Budapest in 1989.

“It was a hard pace from the beginning, I knew it was a very competitive field,” said St. Pierre, who won silver at the last world indoors in Belgrade in 2022 and gave birth to her first child just a year ago.

Tsegay, a global medal winner over multiple distances and 5,000m world record holder, accelerated away with two laps to go, taking Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech and St. Pierre with her, not thinking that the latter had the legs to outdo her for gold.

While Muir had to be happy with fifth, world outdoor 1500m champion Kerr timed his run to perfection to win the men’s 3000m in 7:42.98, with American Yared Nuguse taking silver and Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega bronze.

Barega and teammate Getnet Wale took turns to put in surges to split the field, Kerr bided his time and sprang into action as the bell rang for the final lap, outstripping Barega down the far straight before sprinting clear.

“I didn’t want to shortchange anyone,” said Kerr, draped in the Saltire flag. “It was a hard-fought race, up and down like we expected.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t emotional out there. Keep a cool head and send it with 400m to go. I win every 50-50 I’m in.”

In the field, Caudery sealed Britain’s second gold of the night when she held off New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney to win the pole vault with a best of 4.80m.

The competition was held up for several minutes after France’s Margot Chevrier tumbled off the mat and had to be stretchered off.

Chevrier said on Instagram later that she had fractured her ankle and would have surgery in Glasgow on Sunday followed by another operation after she returns to France.

“It will take what it takes,” she said. “Paris 2024, I will be there.”

Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango won the men’s triple jump with a best of 17.53m on his fifth attempt ahead of Yasser Mohamma Triki of Algeria (17.35m) and Portugal’s Tiago Pereira (17.08).


Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

Updated 03 March 2024
Follow

Ugo Humbert dominates Alexander Bublik to claim glory at 32nd Dubai Tennis Championships

  • French No. 5 seed dispatches 7th seeded Kazakh 6-4, 6-3 to win 6th career title
  • Tallon Griekspoor, Jan-Lennard Struff claim men’s doubles title with 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 victory over Ivan Dodig, Austin Krajicek

Dubai: Ugo Humbert produced a ruthless masterclass to defeat Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in straight sets and seal ATP 500 victory in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The French No. 5 seed, who rose to a career-high world No. 14 after his heroics in Dubai, made it a clean sweep of six titles in six ATP finals with a clinical 6-4, 6-3 dismantling of No. 7 seed Bublik, the world No. 19, in front of a capacity Center Court crowd at Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Humbert, who defeated compatriot Gael Monfils, Britain’s Andy Murray, world No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz, and world No. 4 Daniil Medvedev to reach the final, unleashed his full repertoire of booming forehands and laser-like double-handed backhands to eclipse Bublik, who progressed past 2022 Dubai champion Andrey Rublev in a dramatic semi-final, which saw the No. 2 seed disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After tight opening exchanges where the pair were evenly matched, the final stayed on-serve until the 10th game when Humbert, who had failed to convert break points in Bublik’s two previous service games, finally broke the Kazakh’s resistance to clinch the first set 6-4.

With Bublik delighting the Dubai crowd with a combination of whipped forehands and a deft array of dropshots, Humbert, relaxed and controlled, raced into a 3-1 second set lead after breaking Bublik. From there, the 25-year-old left-hander relied on his own dominant serve – unbroken throughout the final – to close out the match on his second championship point.

Humbert, who claimed the winner’s prize of $550,140, said: “I played a fantastic level all through the week, but it was not easy. I really don’t know how I stayed calm.

“I have too much respect for (Bublik), he’s such a nice guy on and off the court, and congratulations to him on a great start to the year.”

Bublik said: “This week has had almost everything for me, and I can’t wait to come back here again in 2025.

“Before the final, I thought if I won, I would dedicate it to my son, but sorry, maybe next time,” the 26-year-old, who bagged the runner-up prize of $296,000, added.

In the men’s doubles final, the Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor and Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff narrowly defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and the US’ Austin Krajicek 6-4, 4-6, 10-6.

With a pair of service breaks enough to settle the opening two sets, Griekspoor and Struff came from 1-3 down in the deciding super tiebreak, winning nine of the last 12 points to claim a maiden Dubai title and a share of the $180,700 prize pool. Beaten finalists Dodig and Krajicek split a runners-up purse of $96,370.

After the match, Griekspoor said: “It’s the first time we’ve played together, so maybe we should keep it one week. We played really well and had a great time; it was a lot of fun on court. I had such a pleasure on court this week.”

Colm McLoughlin, executive vice chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free, said: “This magical evening has provided a fitting end to a memorable Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships fortnight. We have seen crowds of over 45,000-plus revel in match after match of wonderful tennis during the men’s ATP 500 week.

“Our congratulations go to the 2024 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winners, men’s singles champion, Ugo Humbert, and our doubles champions, Tallon Griekspoor and Jan-Lennard Struff – all truly worthy winners.

Ramesh Cidambi, chief operating officer of Dubai Duty Free and chairman of the tournament organizing committee, said: “This year’s ATP 500 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has, once again, exceeded our expectations with a week of scintillating tennis, unbelievable moments on and off court, and enthusiastic grandstands.

“Thank you to all the players, officials, and fans who have contributed to the runaway success of the 32nd Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium in 12 months’ time.”