KUALA LAMPUR: World Cup hosts Qatar will stage the 2023 Asian Cup, the Asian Football Confederation said on Monday, after China withdrew earlier this year because of Covid.
“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee has today confirmed the Qatar Football Association (QFA) as the host association for the AFC Asian Cup 2023,” the Malaysia-based body said in a statement.
China in June 2019 won the bid to host the event but withdrew in May this year because of its “zero-Covid” policy, leaving the AFC scrambling to find a new host for its flagship men’s 24-team football tournament.
The tournament had been due to be held in 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16 next year.
China is the last major economy still trying to stamp out Covid-19 within its borders, through a series of harsh measures involving snap lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.
The Asian Cup is staged every four years. Qatar won the tournament’s last edition, in 2019, which was hosted by the United Arab Emirates.
South Korea and Indonesia were the other two countries that participated in the bidding to host after China’s withdrawal.
Qatar will host the World Cup starting next month.
The Saudi delegation of 20 athletes has arrived in Abu Dhabi ahead of the start of the Jiu-Jitsu World Championship on Saturday.
The championship will run from Oct. 29 to Nov. 8 and see almost 2,000 male and female fighters, representing 70 countries, participate in the Adult, U-21, U-18 and U-16 categories.
The 27th tournament is organized by the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and International Jiu-Jitsu Federation, and will take place at the Jiu-Jitsu Arena in Zayed Sports City.
It is the third year in a row that the UAE capital has hosted the competition.
The Saudi Games 2022 were officially launched on Friday night in a spectacular 75-minute ceremony held at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh.
Under the patronage of King Salman and on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the first ever games were opened in the presence of Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, governor of the Riyadh region.
#بيننا_أبطال يشاركون في رفع علم #دورة_الألعاب_السعودية عاليًا pic.twitter.com/byksGzkSjl
More than 6,000 athletes from more than 200 clubs will take part in the tournament, which will run until Nov. 7 and see competition in 45 individual and team sports, five of which are dedicated to Paralympic sports.
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Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, minister of sports and president of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee, highlighted that King Salman’s support of the games “motivates us to work and aspire toward the vision that Prince Mohammed bin Salman drew.”
#بيننا_أبطال من جميع مناطق المملكة تجمعهم مسيرة أكبر حدث رياضي وطني #دورة_الألعاب_السعوديةpic.twitter.com/LpfmtyoTwO
The Saudi Games torch was carried to its final destination by runner Hadi Sawan, the first Saudi to win an Olympic medal — silver in the 400m hurdles at Sydney 2000 — in the 400m hurdles, and Abdulrahman Al-Qurashi, who won the bronze medal in the men’s 100 meters T53 event at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics last year.
The ceremony ended with a music concert by international DJ David Guetta.
Al-Ahly have claimed the Egyptian Super Cup for a record-extending 12 times after beating Cairo rivals Zamalek 2-0 at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain on Friday night.
Al-Ahly’s goals came from the Brazilian Bruno Savio in the 38th minute and Karim Fouad in the stoppage time at the end of the match.
While Al-Ahly celebrated their 12th title, Zamalek remained stuck on four.
Zamalek entered the 2021-22 edition of the Super Cup as champions of both the Egyptian Premier League and Egypt Cup from the previous season, while Al-Ahly participated after finishing second in both competitions.
FORT WORTH, Texas: A season ago, Iga Swiatek only qualified for the WTA Finals with a couple of weeks to spare. She was the fifth of eight players to get into the season-ending event for women’s tennis, a situation she found stressful.
What about in 2022? Swiatek was so dominant throughout the year that she booked her spot in September, the first to do so. And when play begins Monday, Swiatek will be the top seed after holding the No. 1 ranking since April and leading the tour in titles (eight) and match wins (64).
Swiatek, a 21-year-old from Poland, heads the Tracy Austin Group that was determined by the draw Friday night, joined by Coco Gauff, Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina. The Nancy Richey Group will be Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka.
The singles and doubles fields both were split into two groups of four for the round-robin portion of the WTA Finals, which will be contested on an indoor hard court.
The top two finishers in each group will advance to the semifinals.
In doubles, the Rosie Casals Group is Pegula and Gauff, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan, and Desire Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs; the Pam Shriver Group is Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos, Veronika Kudermetova and Elize Mertens, Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko, and Anna Danilina and Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Pegula and Gauff are the first pair of women entered in both singles and doubles at the WTA Finals since Serena and Venus Williams did it in 2009. No. 3 Pegula and No. 4 Gauff are also the first two American women both ranked in the top four since the Williams sisters in 2010.
Jabeur, Pegula, Gauff and Kasatkina are all appearing at the event for the first time. Since 2000, only twice were there more WTA Finals participants making their singles debuts: In 2001, five women were in the field for the first time, and last year, six were.
The WTA Finals are returning to the United States for the first time since 2005 after the tour moved it out of China for the second year in a row.
The 2021 WTA Finals originally were supposed to be held in Shenzhen, China, but were moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Then, late last year, the tour said that it would not have any tournaments in China in 2022 because of concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former government official in that country of sexual assault.
DUBAI: Opinion is often divided among football followers when it comes to Neymar.
Alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona from 2014-17, the forward was part of a triumverate to rival the game’s most skilful and potent attacks.
They amassed a combined total of 363 goals, 173 assists and trophies aplenty before Neymar was sold when Paris Saint-Germain paid his €222 million ($221.3 million) buyout clause.
The transfer — and still a world record — in 2017 has perhaps not been the success story he, nor the club, envisaged.
While dominant in domestic competition, the Qatari-owned French side have yet to lift the Champions League, despite an array of talent that also includes Kylian Mbappe and Messi after his arrival from Barcelona in 2021, and with Neymar’s performance and contribution questioned by critics.
And for Brazil; does Neymar’s name stand deservedly alongside the all-time greats if he does not lead them to a World Cup success?
Despite his 75 international goals — just two shy of the legendary Pele’s record mark — in 121 appearances, the 30-year-old has only won gold at the 2016 Olympics with the national team in major competitions.
Injury saw him miss out when Brazil infamously lost the 2014 World Cup semifinal to Germany 7-1 in their home tournament, before they bowed out at the quarter-final stage in Russia four years later with defeat to Belgium.
At the Copa America, Willian replaced the injured Neymar before the Selecao won the 2019 tournament, and they lost last year’s final to Argentina last year even with their talisman in their ranks.
But Willian, capped 70 times by his country, has no doubt about Neymar’s quality or influence for club or country.
“Neymar is an unbelievable player, he can make the difference for Brazil at any time,” he said.
“From the first minute to the last minute, he’s a special player for Brazil.”
The pressure, though, will be on Neymar and Brazil at next month’s tournament in Qatar.
Led by Tite — who had brief spells at UAE sides Al-Ain and Al-Wahda — Brazil are among the favorites to win a sixth title, but a first since 2002.
“I think the pressure is normal,” added Fulham midfielder Willian. “Brazil is a huge country, a lot of history, already won the World Cup five times, and just always want to win.
“Brazil always has the chance to win the World Cup because Brazil is Brazil, with so many quality players.
“But at the same time we know how difficult it is to win the World Cup and there will be other national teams with quality there as well.
“But I hope this is the time they win it again . . . and I now expect Brazil to go there to Qatar and win this World Cup.”
Willian will be following their fortunes from England, having made a surprise return to the Premier League in September.
He won two titles during seven seasons with Chelsea before joining Arsenal on a free transfer in 2020.
But the move to the Emirates Stadium proved so unhappy an experience that he cut it short after just one year into a three-year contract.
A spell at his boyhood club Corinthians followed, but death threats on social media prompted another early exit.
Fulham offered Willian a deal until the end of the season and the 34-year-old has already impressed, scoring his first goal in a 3-2 win at Leeds that took the club up to seventh place.
Manager Marco Silva believes his guile and experience will be invaluable to a side that were promoted last season.
And Willian is enjoying the chance to roll back the years.
“I just wanted to play in the Premier League again,” he said. “For me, it’s the best league in the world.
“To play in the Premier League you have to enjoy yourself and I’m doing that — I feel so good to be back.
“I enjoy the moment, enjoy the game but, at the same time, always to win. I want to compete, I want to score goals, to play well.
“I think I’m getting younger as well. I’m 34, but I feel 28, something like this. I feel good and am enjoying this moment a lot. I want to play until 40 if it’s possible, I wish to. I have to take care of myself outside the pitch, but I feel good.”
Fulham’s impressive start to the season has sparked talk of a first appearance in European competition since they reached the Europa League in 2011, via the Fair Play League.
In the 2009-10 campaign they reached the Europa League final, where they lost to Atletico Madrid.
But Willian added: “You know how difficult this league is, so we have to take it step by step, game by game, and I think we are doing that.
“It’s too early to think about Europe but we have ambition and, of course, if it is possible, we want to go.
“This team is a very good team with a lot of players that want to win, who have the ambition to win things — and I am proud to play for Fulham at the moment.
“But I’m not playing alone, I need the team, they need me and it’s a mix. I learn from them and I’m here to help them, and to help the team as much as I can to win games.”