Man Utd rut ‘not good enough’ but Ten Hag vows to fight on

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Updated 07 May 2024
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Man Utd rut ‘not good enough’ but Ten Hag vows to fight on

LONDON: Erik ten Hag took responsibility for Manchester United’s miserable showing in a 4-0 thrashing by Crystal Palace on Monday, but said he is still the right man to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Palace completed a first ever league double over United in style as Michael Olize scored twice, while Jean-Philippe Mateta and Tyrick Mitchell were also on target for the in-form Eagles.
Defeat left Ten Hag’s men eighth and at risk of both their worst ever Premier League finish and missing out on European competition next season.
The Dutchman’s future is in doubt with structural change ongoing at Old Trafford since British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe bought a minority stake and took sporting control of the club earlier this year.
“It’s clear and it’s obvious this is under-performing,” said Ten Hag. “We didn’t act how we want to do it and this is by far not good enough.”
Ten Hag’s options were again limited by a mounting injury list.
Captain Bruno Fernandes missed a club game through injury for the first time in his career, while England international duo Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire were also absent.
The makeshift center-back pairing of Casemiro and Jonny Evans were torn apart by Palace’s pace and invention.
“Absolutely,” added Ten Hag on whether believes he is the right man to lead United forward.
“If we have the right players available we have a good squad but we miss almost the whole back-line and then we have problems.
“I will keep fighting and I prepared the team in the best way I could do. It was not good enough, by far not good enough, so I have to take the responsibility for that but I will find the energy and I will prepare them for Sunday.”
Worse could be to come for Ten Hag when title-chasing Arsenal visit Old Trafford at the weekend.
United have never failed to finish in the top seven in the Premier League era and must do so or beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final to qualify for Europe.
But the embarassing scoreline at Selhurst Park is not unprecedented during Ten Hag’s reign.
United lost 4-0 at Brentford, 7-0 to Liverpool and 6-3 away to Manchester City during his first season in charge.
This season they have conceded 81 goals in all competitions, the club’s worst tally since 1976-77.
After a disappointing early exits from both the Champions League and League Cup, a FA Cup run has offered Ten Hag some relief.
But they booked their place in a second consecutive final only by surviving a penalty shootout against second-tier Coventry after blowing a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3.
“That was tough to watch,” said former United midfielder Paul Scholes of the Red Devils’ display at Palace. “That could have been 7-0.”
Ratcliffe’s INEOS group have already begun making appointments they hope will turn around a decade of decline at the 20-time English champions.
Jason Wilcox has been named the club’s new technical director, while Newcastle’s Dan Ashworth has been targeted as sporting director and former Manchester City executive Omar Berrada will take over as CEO.


Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup

Updated 12 July 2024
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Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup

  • World’s largest gaming competition runs until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City

RIYADH: Action at the Esports World Cup is hotting up across three of the most high-profile conceptions — “Free Fire,” the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” and “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.”

Running until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City, the eight-week Esports World Cup has seen strong showings in “Free Fire” from All Glory Gaming, Team Solid, and Twisted Minds.

At the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters,” HEROIC, Team Spirit, Tundra Esports, and WBG.XG were among the teams to impress.

Meanwhile, “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” has reached the quarterfinal stage.

The Esports World Cup features a unique cross-game structure pitting the world’s top clubs and players against one another across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games.

More than 1,500 players from 60 countries are battling it out for a share of the $60 million prize pool — the largest in the history of esports.


T1 star Faker hails ‘Cristiano Ronaldo-esque’ reception from fans at Esports World Cup in Riyadh

Updated 12 July 2024
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T1 star Faker hails ‘Cristiano Ronaldo-esque’ reception from fans at Esports World Cup in Riyadh

  • The ‘Michael Jordan of esports’ helped South Korean side overcome Top Esports of China 3-1 at Boulevard Riyadh City in Esports World Cup’s ‘League of Legends’ final

RIYADH: Faker, the T1 star known as the “Michael Jordan of esports,” believes his Esports World Cup reception from fans in Saudi Arabia has been “Cristiano Ronaldo-esque” — but that is mostly because they love “League of Legends,” not just him.

The 28-year-old South Korean professional, whose real name is Lee Sang-hyeok, is a hero across the world for his gaming exploits and has 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

Starred in the Esports World Cup’s “League of Legends” competition as South Korea’s T1 overcame Top Esports of China 3-1 in Sunday’s all-Asian final in front of a capacity crowd at the SEF Arena at Boulevard Riyadh City.

The win secured vital Esports World Cup Club Championship points for T1 and the $400,000 first prize.

Faker described the love he received from fans in Saudi Arabia as akin to that of five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Al-Nassr hero Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I think it’s because I’ve been putting in a lot of effort all these years and the fans really like that. But mostly I think it’s the love of ‘League of Legends’ itself from the fans. All I can do is just keep being better and keep it up all these years.”

Adored by millions worldwide, “League of Legends” is a strategy game where two teams of five powerful champions face off with the objective of destroying the opposition’s base.

The final on Sunday at the Esports World Cup was decided in a best-of-five format.

Faker — who competes alongside Zeus, Oner, Gumayusi and Keria in T1’s five-star lineup — said the world cup “symbolizes the growth of esports worldwide.

“There are so many athletes from so many countries competing here and this reflects the recent growth of our industry. It’s popular everywhere right now. I hope the Esports World Cup attracts even more athletes, clubs, games, and fans in the future.”

The Esports World Cup began on July 3 and ends on Aug. 25 with 22 tournaments across 21 titles.


Saudi’s Hattan Alsaif fights for women’s place in Mideast MMA

Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi’s Hattan Alsaif fights for women’s place in Mideast MMA

  • At PFL MENA 2 on Friday night, the 22-year-old will take on Egypt’s Iman Baraka at Riyadh’s Green Halls
  • Alsaif made a winning debut in the Professional Fighters League against Egypt’s Nada Faheem in May

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Hattan Alsaif is fighting to prove that women deserve their place in the world of combat sports.

The 22-year-old Muay Thai striker recently made history by becoming the first female from the Kingdom to be recruited by a major mixed martial arts organization when she joined the Professional Fighters League.

In May, Alsaif made her highly-anticipated debut during the inaugural season of PFL MENA. She knocked out Egypt’s Nada Faheem by head kick in the second round, much to the delight of fans in Riyadh.

Alsaif hopes to inspire other Saudi Arabia women to take up the sport.

“Combat sports isn’t exclusive to men anymore,” Alsaif said. “It’s open to both sexes.”

Alsaif has some big names in her corner, namely fellow Saudi Arabian fighter Abdullah Al-Qahtani, who is currently the Kingdom’s biggest MMA star.

“He supports me, he helps me develop my game, and he gave me a lot of motivation after my first PFL win,” Alsaif said of Al-Qahtani.

Alsaif said she does not feel pressure when fighting, but rather a determination to succeed.

“Winning my last fight wasn’t pressure, it was validation,” she explained. At PFL MENA 2 this weekend, she steps back into the cage to take on another Egyptian fighter.

“It showed my preparation was perfect, and now I’m even more confident facing Iman Baraka,” she said.

Alsaif said she enjoyed fighting in her hometown. “The energy of the Saudi fans after my first win was incredible. It fueled my training and showed me I was on the right track.”

“I saw the love and support from the fans after my victory, and it made me even hungrier to win again. I’m ready to step into the cage and prove myself,” she added.

“The last fight was a great victory, but now my focus is on Iman Baraka. I’m not dwelling on the past, I’m training for the challenge ahead.”


Swimming prodigy Summer McIntosh, a ‘force of nature’ heading for Olympics

Updated 12 July 2024
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Swimming prodigy Summer McIntosh, a ‘force of nature’ heading for Olympics

  • The 17-year-old swimmer is already a four-time gold medalist at the World Championships
  • In Paris, all eyes will be on her to dethrone American legend Katie Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic champion seeking an eighth title

ETOBICOKE, Canada: Canadian prodigy Summer McIntosh, expected to be one of the stars of the Paris Olympics, has already made her mark in swimming, and nobody in her family or entourage is surprised.

“We knew even at seven or eight years old that she was going to be an exceptional swimmer... beating 10 and 12-year-old swimmers by a pool length,” her father Greg McIntosh told AFP. “She is a force of nature. She has been since she was a child.”

The 17-year-old swimmer is already a four-time gold medalist at the World Championships — in the 200m butterfly and 400m medley in 2022 in Budapest and in 2023 in Fukuoka.

And last May, she broke her own world record in the 400-meter medley, just a few weeks before the Olympics.

The feat was achieved in front of a hometown crowd during the Canadian Olympic trials. For two years, the star has trained in Florida, spending six days a week in the pool, starting at 4 a.m.

“All of her time is devoted to swimming,” says her sister Brooke McIntosh, speaking from the family home in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke.

The McIntosh family’s passion for sport runs deep: their mother Jill saw action in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and older sister Brooke shines in pairs figure skating, having earned a bronze medal in 2022 at the world junior championship.

“We’re very competitive. This is really in our blood,” she says with a chuckle, at her side Mikey — an orange tabby that Summer named for her idol, American Michael Phelps who is the most decorated swimmer of all time.

With two teenagers with high-level sporting careers, the McIntoshes have split the family in two: Summer and Jill live in the US for pool training, Brooke and Greg in Canada for ice training.

“We have a fairly detailed family calendar that reminds us of everyone’s obligations,” explains the “very proud” father, who is both “excited and nervous” for the Paris Olympics.

The competition will also be closely followed by regulars at the Gus Ryder pool in Etobicoke, where Summer McIntosh started out.

“I’ve never had a swimmer before Summer or after that is anywhere in her league, to be honest, and I don’t know that I ever will,” her first coach Lindsay Watt told AFP.

From the edge of the pool, where she keeps an eye on young swimmers she trains, she describes the “power” of Summer McIntosh.

“As soon as she gets onto any scene, she wants to dominate,” Watt said.

“She doesn’t let anyone infiltrate her positive thoughts. Her mentality is like a fortress. Most athletes take a lifetime to learn that, but Summer had it figured out at eight years old.”

This unwavering determination had also impressed her primary school teacher Valerie Flynn.

Summer “was swimming a lot and always writing about it in her journal,” she recalls. “It’s not every day you see a student achieve a goal that they had set out in Grade 3.”

The Paris Olympics will be her second Games after those in Tokyo in 2021 where she became the youngest Canadian athlete in the history of the Games, all sports combined.

In Paris, all eyes will be on her to dethrone American legend Katie Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic champion seeking an eighth title.

In recent months, the 27-year-old superstar suffered her first defeats in more than 10 years in the 400m and 800m freestyle — to Summer McIntosh.


Girmay wins again as Roglic suffers costly Tour de France fall

Updated 12 July 2024
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Girmay wins again as Roglic suffers costly Tour de France fall

  • Girmay now has 328pts to Jasper Philipsen’s 217 with few real sprint stages remaining, with the exception of the one on Friday
  • Title pretender Roglic had been fourth overnight but trailed home 2min 27sec behind Girmay after a fall that left his shoulder bleeding

VILLENEUVE-SUR-LOT, France: Biniam Girmay won stage 12 of the Tour de France in a mass dash for the line on Thursday to extend his lead in the sprint points race with his third triumph so far, while Primoz Roglic was left bloody after another fall.

Girmay became the first black African to win a stage on the Tour on the third day of this year’s edition at Turin and was first again on stage eight.

He then proved fastest in a bunched sprint finish in stage 12 as he topped the podium ahead of Wout van Aert and Pascal Ackermann.

Girmay now has 328pts to Jasper Philipsen’s 217 with few real sprint stages remaining, with the exception of the one on Friday.

Title pretender Roglic had been fourth overnight but trailed home 2min 27sec behind Girmay after a fall that left his shoulder bleeding.

Overnight leader Tadej Pogacar remains 1min 06sec ahead of Remco Evenepoel in second, with Jonas Vingegaard in third at 1min 14sec.

Pogacar’s teammate Joao Almeida is now fourth in the overall standings at 4min 20sec, with Ineos rider Carlos Rodriguez in fifth at 4min 40sec.

Roglic started the day 2min 15sec adrift but looked haggard as he crossed the line after struggling home over the final 12.5km.

The fall happened outside the zone where late crashes are overlooked for overall times.

Roglic was involved in a crash for a second consecutive day after an Astana rider failed to see a slender traffic island and took down some dozen riders.

The 34-year-old four-time Grand Tour winner took a couple of minutes to get back in the saddle.

The Tour lost two further participants on Thursday.

First, the bulky Belgian sprinter Fabio Jakobsen found it too hard to keep up with the swift 2024 Tour pace and fell off the back to retire.

Spanish rider Pello Bilbao was also ill in the 33C heat and pulled out halfway through the stage unable to maintain the pace.

Four early attackers opened a gap of almost four minutes after getting away at 34km and only being reeled in at 164km.

Jonas Abrahamsen is level with Pogacar in the Mountain classification on 36 points.

However, the nominal leader is to be the Slovenian due to his higher standing.

Stage 13 is one of the last obvious sprint stages on a flat run Friday from Agen to Pau, the gateway to the Pyrenees.

“Between Pau and Nice there is hardly any flat terrain at all,” said route architect Thierry Gouvenou.