Internazionale are focused on winning EA Sports FC Supercup in Riyadh

The day before Inter Milan and Lazio face off in Supercoppa Italiana’s semifinal in Riyadh, Internazionale’s coach Simone Inzaghi confirmed that his team are fully focused on winning the Italian Super Cup. (X/@Inter)
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Updated 18 January 2024

Internazionale are focused on winning EA Sports FC Supercup in Riyadh

  • Inter’s Simone Inzaghi looks for the support of ‘our fans in Saudi Arabia’
  • Lazio’s Maurizio Sarri keen to eradicate mistakes against one of Europe’s strongest clubs

RIYADH: The day before Inter Milan and Lazio face off in Supercoppa Italiana’s semifinal in Riyadh, Internazionale’s coach Simone Inzaghi confirmed that his team are fully focused on winning the Italian Super Cup.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday ahead of the second semifinal in the competition, officially known as the EA Sports FC Supercup, Inzaghi said winning the cup “takes the most focus,” especially since the tournament is played in a knockout system.
He added: “This makes it necessary for the technical staff to choose the participating players carefully, especially considering the strength of Lazio, which are ranked fourth in the Italian Serie A.”
According to Inter’s coach, the course of the clash remains in the balance, especially against a “distinguished team” like Lazio.
Inzaghi said: “In order to coach or be a player at Internazionale, you must get used to pressures and have great aspirations. On a personal level, we ask our fans in Saudi Arabia to support us like they did last year.”
The 36th Supercoppa Italiana kicked off on Thursday evening with Napoli playing against Fiorentina in the first semifinal.
This year marks the fourth time the Kingdom has hosted the event, and it is the first time it has featured both the winners and runners-up of Serie A and the Coppa Italia, rather than just the champions of each.
Inter Milan’s Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan said: “Competing in the Super Cup with the participation of four clubs is something special, and to keep the trophy in our closet requires us to double our efforts.
“Rewinning the title will make our fans happy and will be a motivation for other competitions. The confrontations against Lazio are always difficult, given that they have a strong group of players.”
Commenting on Saudi football, Mkhitaryan said: “What Saudi sports have been doing is a great thing. The arrival of many international players will contribute to the development of the Saudi Pro League.”
Meanwhile, Lazio’s head coach Maurizio Sarri has pointed out the importance of not making mistakes against Inter, and to play in a manner that can achieve the desired result against a team considered one of Europe’s strongest.
The arrival of star names in the SPL is of interest to Sarri, who hopes that the Kingdom continues to develop in the sport.
Lazio’s Italian striker Ciro Immobile said: “It is a cup with two finals, and there is not enough time to prepare for all matches. Currently, I somehow lack sharpness after three weeks of absence. Our last match with Inter was a real test, and we must focus to avoid the negatives that happened and reinforce the positives.”
The Supercoppa Italiana’s two semifinals and final, which takes place on Monday, are hosted at Al-Awwal Park, the 25,000-capacity home ground of SPL side Al-Nassr.

Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop

Updated 20 May 2024

Saudi Arabian Football Federation hosts women’s coaching workshop

  • Topics included data analytics, injury prevention and team-building
  • Event attended by 32 coaches from Kingdom, Africa

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation held a five-day educational workshop on women’s football aimed at empowering coaches from the Kingdom and Africa.

The event in Riyadh, held in partnership with the Confederation of African Football, ran from May 14-18 and was attended by 32 coaches — 16 from CAF member associations and 16 from local sports clubs, regional training centers as well as the Saudi Arabian women’s national teams.

Lluis Cortes, head coach of the Saudi Arabia women’s national team, led the workshop, which also featured Aalia Al-Rasheed, head of the Women’s Football Department at SAFF, as well as elite international women’s football experts and prominent CAF officials.

“The success of this event demonstrates our commitment to fostering the growth and development of women’s football both in Saudi Arabia and across Africa,” Lamia Bahaian, vice president of the SAFF, said in a statement.

“Through these collaborative efforts, we aim to create a strong network of coaches who can share their experiences, support one another, and contribute to the global advancement of women’s football. The enthusiasm and dedication shown by the participants has been truly inspiring, and we are confident that their influence will be felt on and off the field.”

Aimed at improving coaching capabilities and expertise, the SAFF-CAF workshop included a variety of panel discussions, practical lessons and theoretical sessions.

Key football-related topics covered in the workshop included data analytics, female health and injury prevention, leadership and communication, and team-building.

The CAF member associations represented in Riyadh included Botswana, Burundi, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus ‘very proud’ as last-gasp equalizer preserves unbeaten domestic season

Updated 18 May 2024

Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus ‘very proud’ as last-gasp equalizer preserves unbeaten domestic season

  • Roshn Saudi League champions earn 1-1 draw in Riyadh derby on Friday thanks to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s injury-time penalty
  • Al-Nassr manager Luis Castro disputes penalty award and praises players’ performance

Riyadh: Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus saluted the resilience of his players after they preserved the club’s unbeaten domestic season with an injury-time penalty from Aleksandar Mitrovic in their Roshn Saudi League 1-1 draw against Al-Nassr.

A dramatic Riyadh derby exploded into life on Friday night after just 25 seconds when Al-Nassr midfielder Otavio thundered the hosts into the lead from distance at Al-Awwal Park. But Mitrovic ensured the champions remain on course for an invincible 2023/24 league campaign by smashing home a late spot-kick awarded after a VAR check.

In a match in which both sides created chances, both Jesus and Al-Nassr counterpart Luis Castro agreed the hosts enjoyed the better of the first half, and the title winners the second half.

While Al-Hilal could not maintain a remarkable Roshn Saudi League winning run that stretched all the way back to September — 24 games in total — Jesus said the determination shown to earn a point bears all the hallmark of champions.

“I’m very proud of my players,” he said. “They showed great resilience (to keep the unbeaten record). We have a fantastic group of players. I believe in their talents; they believe in my ideas.

“It has been a fantastic season until now. We want to finish as winners and there are three games left: two in the league and one the King’s Cup final. We not only want to be unbeaten in the next two games in the league, but also win the King’s Cup. I don’t think you can have a better season than this in local competitions.”

The penalty kick was awarded deep into injury time when Sadio Mane was deemed to have caught Saud Abdulhamid just inside the penalty area. Spanish referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez pointed to the spot after being called to the screen by the VAR.

Jesus believed Saud was impeded by Mane, but Castro was unhappy that the decision denied his team three points against their Riyadh rivals.

Castro said: “The penalty given to them and scored by them; it wasn’t at all a penalty. There is no injury, there is no foul at all.”

Asked whether the game will influence the upcoming King’s Cup final between the two sides that will round off the season, Castro said: “No, this was one match and that is a different match. We all saw how Al-Hilal celebrated as if they won, but they only drew. That means it was a tough match for them. We had chances to win.”

Twelve points separate champions Al-Hilal and second-placed Al-Nassr in the Saudi Roshn League table.

The previous league derby between the two this season saw Al-Hilal beat Al-Nassr 3-0 in December. As well as being unbeaten domestically this season, Al-Hilal also created world football history earlier in the campaign by winning 34 matches in succession across all competitions.

Al-Hilal crowned Roshn Saudi League champions after Al-Hazem rout

Updated 11 May 2024

Al-Hilal crowned Roshn Saudi League champions after Al-Hazem rout

  • The 4-1 win at Kingdom Arena means the Riyadh giants have now extended their Saudi Pro League record to 19 championships

RIYADH: Al-Hilal wrapped up the Roshn Saudi League title with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Al-Hazem on Saturday at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

The victory means that Al-Hilal have now extended their Saudi Pro League record to 19 championships.

Al-Nassr’s 3-2 win over Al-Okhdood on Thursday had delayed Al-Hilal’s coronation for two days at least, but Jorge Jesus and his men knew a win or draw against Al-Hazem would be enough to clinch the title.

Serbian forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, one of the signings of the season, got the party underway with a penalty after 15 minutes but, with nine minutes of the first half left, an unscripted moment saw Faiz Selemani score with a fine left-foot strike after being put through on goal.

Al-Hazem’s joy did not last long however, with Ahmed Al-Juwaid gifting Al-Hilal the lead five minutes later with a bizarre own goal that sailed over goalkeeper Zaid Al-Malki’s head.

The home team scented blood and proceeded to put the result, and the title race, to bed with two goals in first-half added time.

Mitrovic side-footed home from countryman Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s cross from the left in the 48th minute of the half, and the assister turned goalscorer three minutes later to give Al-Hilal a 4-1 lead at the break.

With Al-Hilal fans already in celebratory mood and the title all but confirmed by the break, the second period inevitably saw the home team take their foot off the pedal.

VAR ruled out what would have been Al-Hazem’s second goal in added time and moments later the final whistle went to confirm the championship for Al-Hilal.

Their fans could finally celebrate a title win that had been on the cards for several weeks. 

Al-Hilal has to delay title celebrations as Al-Nassr beats Al-Okhdood

Al-Nassr players celebrate Marcelo Brozovic's late winner against Al-Okhdood. (X/@AlNassrFC_EN)
Updated 10 May 2024

Al-Hilal has to delay title celebrations as Al-Nassr beats Al-Okhdood

  • Marcelo Brozovic’s 91st minute winner means the leaders can wrap a 19th Saudi Pro League championship against Al-Hazem on Saturday

RIYADH: A stoppage-time goal by Marcelo Brozovic secured a 3-2 win for Al-Nassr against gallant Al-Okhdood on Thursday night at Prince Hathloul Stadium, which means a delay for Al-Hilal’s crowning as Saudi Pro League champions.

Al-Nassr had led 2-0 at half time before the home team mounted a spirited second-half comeback to square the match, a result which would have handed the title to leaders Al-Hilal with four matches left.

The win raised the Yellows’ points tally to 77 points, nine behind their Riyadh rivals. Al-Hilal can wrap up a record-extending 19th championship on Saturday night with a win or draw against Al-Hazem in Riyadh.

Al-Nassr took the lead through Brozovic after only seven minutes and a comfortable win was on the cards when Cristiano Ronaldo made it 2-0 only eight minutes later.

However, goals by Hassan Al-Habib on the hour mark and Saviour Goodwin 10 minutes later looked to have earned the 15th-placed team a vital point in their battle against relegation.

In the unlikely event they fail to win against Al-Hazem, Al-Hilal will have another chance on May 17 against Al-Nassr in the Riyadh Derby at Al-Awwal Park Stadium.

Hero Malcom assists and scores as Hilal edge closer to SPL title

Updated 07 May 2024

Hero Malcom assists and scores as Hilal edge closer to SPL title

  • The Brazilian played starring role in the 2-1 Saudi Classico win against Al-Ahli in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Brazilian star Malcolm was the hero for Al-Hilal on Monday night when he managed an assist and a decisive goal in their 2-1 win over Al-Ahli in the latest Saudi Classico in Jeddah.

The match had been postponed from the 28th round of the Saudi Pro League due to Al-Hilal’s AFC Champions League commitments.

Malcolm set up Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic for the equalizer on 52 minutes after Saudi international Firas Al-Buraikan had given Al-Ahli the lead on the half-hour mark at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.

Malcom then brought Al-Hilal within touching distance of a record-extending 19th league title by scoring the winner in the 89th minute.

Al-Hilal signed Malcom on a four-year contract from Zenit St. Petersburg last summer. And with five matches remaining until the end of his first season, he has scored 22 goals for the club, 14 of which have come in the SPL.