KUWAIT: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, president of the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation, announced on Sunday that the 26th Arabian Gulf Cup will be hosted in Kuwait in December 2024, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The announcement came during a press conference held in Basra, on the sidelines of the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup in Iraq.
Riyadh: Australian professional golfer Cameron Smith has joined a growing list of top international players confirming their participation in the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
The event will be hosted by the Royal Greens in King Abdullah Economic City between Feb. 2 and 5 and will have a total prize pool of $5 million.
Smith, the third-ranked Australian winner of the 2022 PGA Championship, and The Open champion will take part alongside a group of elite golfers including American Harold Varner, winner of last year’s tournament, and the top 30 players from the Asian Tour.
Although he finished fourth last year, Smith has been tipped as a title contender this year following his victory in The Open, held at St. Andrews, in Scotland in July.
Smith said: “The Saudi International championship is one of the tournaments that includes the biggest names in the season, and it is great to participate in a tournament of this size.
“I am looking forward to meeting some familiar faces alongside the stars of the Asian Tour. My experience was distinguished at the Royal Greens last year,” he added.
Last year, Golf Saudi entered a 10-year partnership with the Asian Tour. As a result of that alignment, the $5 million PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers has become the opening event on the Asian Tour’s annual calendar.
LONDON: Erik ten Hag has pledged to do everything in his power to end Manchester United’s worst trophy drought in 40 years ahead of their League Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.
United have not won any silverware since the League Cup and Europa League in 2017, when Jose Mourinho was in charge at Old Trafford.
The English giants have reached at least the semifinal stage of various competitions on six occasions since then, losing the 2018 FA Cup final and 2021 Europa League final.
Ten Hag said United’s six-year wait for a trophy — a relative drought last experienced between 1977 and 1983 — was “too long.”
“It’s the best feeling you can have winning a trophy,” said the Dutch manager, who won the Eredivisie with Ajax last season.
“I had the luck in my career to win some trophies and it’s magnificent, especially for the fans. It’s so great and I think the fans here have some experience, especially the older ones.
“But now it is a period Manchester United didn’t win trophies and it is too long ago. We are aware of that fact and we have to do everything to bring a trophy in.”
United are looking to get back to winning ways in the first leg of the tie at Forest’s City Ground after two frustrating Premier League trips to London.
Michael Olize’s late free-kick rescued a 1-1 draw for Crystal Palace last week and Eddie Nketiah struck at the death as table-topping Arsenal triumphed 3-2 on Sunday.
“We left it behind,” Ten Hag said of the Emirates Stadium loss that led him to criticize some aspects of his side’s defending.
The United coach said defense was not an area of concern in general, pointing to the number of clean sheets his team had kept in recent weeks.
But he added: “When you concede three goals in a top game, then it’s really difficult to win a game. That’s what happens so that is one of the conclusions.
“It can’t happen. We set that conclusion, we talked about, we showed them, we have to learn and to take this lesson.”
Casemiro returns from suspension against Forest, but Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot and Jadon Sancho are still absent.
SHARJAH: The world’s best skateboarders have pledged to put on a “spectacular show” at the Street 2022 and Park 2022 World Championships at Aljada Skate Park in Sharjah, which act as qualifiers for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Road to Paris competitions will see Sharjah hosting the Street 2022 World Championships from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5, followed by the Park 2022 World Championships from Feb. 5 to 12.
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, vice chairman of Arada, said: “Aljada Skate Park’s world-class facility looks forward to welcoming the best skateboarding talents around for what will be an incredible fortnight of modern, breath-taking sporting action.
“We look forward also to welcoming the many fans delighted to see their young heroes live, as we showcase one of the fastest-growing sports in the world.
“Added to that will be the offerings on the side of the live action, such as music, fashion, food, and more, which epitomize the position skating holds in popular culture,” the prince added.
And with the countdown to the sporting action underway, the best boarders on the planet hold the promise of incredible tricks, and amazing photo and video opportunities.
Momiji Nishiya, who won the first ever gold medal in the women’s street skateboarding at the 2020 Olympics aged just 13, said: “The popularity of skateboarding has grown so much since it was introduced into the Olympics a few years ago. It’s great going around the world seeing so many people my age enjoying something I love so much.
“The standard of skating right now is incredible – it’s insane. The fans are in for such a treat in Sharjah. I know I will have to bring my A-game, and I would encourage everyone to come and watch us all in action at Aljada Skate Park because it will be a spectacular show.”
Rayssa Leal, the 15-year-old Brazilian skateboarder with 6.4 million Instagram followers who won silver in the women’s street skateboarding at the 2020 Olympics, said she loved to see “how passionate people are about skateboarding and the culture around our sport.”
She added: “The World Championships in Sharjah will be so good. The talent coming from across the world to compete here is off-the-scale good. I want to go one better at the next Olympics, so will be doing everything I can in Sharjah to put on the best performance going.”
More than 450 skateboarders from around the world, including all 12 medal winners from the 2020 Tokyo Games, will compete across both events – which are a first for the UAE and the wider Middle East.
Quarterfinals for the Park event will take place on Friday, Feb. 3, with the semifinals on Feb. 4, and the final the following day. Quarterfinals for the Street event will take place on Friday, Feb. 10, followed by the semifinals on Feb. 11, and the final on Sunday. Qualifiers for each event will take place during the week, with full timings to be released in due course.
Visitors to the World Championships can enjoy local DJs, pop-up outlets, a range of food options, and a festival atmosphere.
The skateboarding championships are being co-organized by World Skate and UAE-based master developer Arada and highlight Sharjah’s position as a new regional hub for the rapidly expanding sport.
Sabatino Aracu, president of World Skate, said: “The standard of skating at the World Championships will be immense and we encourage as many people as possible – be they passionate skaters or newbies looking to get involved in our way of life – to be there in Sharjah. I can guarantee they will have an awesome time at Aljada Skate Park.”
Aljada Skate Park, spread over six separate parks that include Olympic-level street and park sections complete with two 3.3-meter deep ends, is in the Aljada urban district, Sharjah’s largest ever project, which is being developed by Arada.
The skate park has quickly become a major attraction for hundreds of skateboarding enthusiasts from throughout the UAE, who participate in weekly skating competitions. It is a central feature in Madar, the Aljada community’s entertainment district, which has been designed by Zaha Hadid Architects.
RIYADH: National flag carrier Saudi Airlines have announced that Stoffel Vandoorne, the reigning ABB FIA Formula E world champion, would become their official ambassador for the new season.
Saudia are already official partners of the all-electric series and confirmed the new collaboration with the 30-year-old Belgian driver ahead of the Diriyah E-Prix double header this weekend.
“I’m excited to partner with Saudia as their ambassador this season,” said Vandoorne. “In addition to our love for Formula E, we share a passion for discovering destinations and creating memories that last a lifetime. Saudi Arabia is an incredible country; rich in culture, events and experiences and it’s a pleasure to join them in showcasing it, and Formula E, to the world.”
The ambassadorship and return of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship to Diriyah also comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced that a dedicated project to boost and develop this town would be part of the state’s Vision 2030 plan which aims to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.
According to the World Tourism Organization, Saudi Arabia is the country that received the most tourists in the Arab world, surpassing pre-pandemic figures by 121 percent and seeing more than 18 million foreign visitors.
A key goal of Vision 2030 and Saudia is for sport to take centerstage in Saudi Arabia’s transformation and diversification efforts. In just a few years, the country has become home to a flourishing sports events ecosystem, playing host to international gatherings and tournaments that include boxing and football.
In addition to providing employment opportunities for home-grown talent and attracting foreign investment, the global appetite for sports tourism is a primary driver of this mission with a positive impact on expanding the tourism product.
Moataz Alandijani, GM Partnerships & Sponsorships at Saudia, said: “We’re delighted to announce Stoffel Vandoorne as an official ambassador of Saudia. As a leader in his field and the current champion of the ABB FIA Formula E, our partnership is based on shared values of progress and innovation.
“We’re looking forward to building on this important collaboration throughout Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship as Saudia fulfils its role as ‘the wings of Vision 2023’ and builds upon its position as one of the world’s leading airlines.”
MIAMI: No. 1 draft pick Paolo Banchero scored 23 points as the Orlando Magic ended the injury-depleted Boston Celtics’ nine-game winning streak with an upset 113-98 victory on Monday.
Orlando, languishing three places off the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 17-29 record prior to Monday’s game, took full advantage of Boston’s injury crisis to complete a deserved win at the Amway Center in Florida.
The league-leading Celtics were missing key defensive figures Marcus Smart and Robert Williams due to injury and their absence proved crucial as a fired-up Orlando stormed to victory.
The 20-year-old Banchero showed a maturity beyond his tender years to orchestrate Orlando’s win, which saw five Magic players reach double-digit totals, with Wendell Carter Jr. posting 21 points and Germany’s Franz Wagner 15.
“Anytime you get to play a championship-level team, a team that’s been to the finals, and has been where you want to be, you want to put out your best effort and get the win,” Banchero said afterwards.
“That’s my mentality, and that’s our team’s mentality, and we were able to do that.
“I just wanted to be decisive with my moves, when I decided to attack, when I decided to shoot — not force anything and let the game come to me. Be aggressive and decisive, and live with the results.”
Arguably the most impressive contribution came in the form of a 10-minute cameo from Jonathan Isaac, making his first appearance in an NBA game since August 2020 following more than two years dominated by injuries.
Isaac finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals during his encouraging return to the hardwood.
“It felt fantastic, just to touch the floor — I feel so grateful,” Isaac said afterwards. “I feel good, I’m grateful to be with the Magic, plus to get a win — I couldn’t be happier.”
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the Boston scoring with 26 points each, while Derrick White added 11 and Sam Hauser 13 off the bench
In other games on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton returned from injury with a vengeance as the Milwaukee Bucks arrested their current slump in form with a ruthless 150-130 pounding of the Detroit Pistons.
Antetokounmpo had missed the last five Bucks games with a lingering knee injury, a spell that saw Milwaukee lose three games. Middleton meanwhile had not played since mid-December.
But Antetokounmpo showed no sign of ring-rust as he led a comprehensive rout, scoring 29 points with 12 rebounds and four assists.
Brook Lopez added 21 points while Middleton added eight points on his return.
“It feels good to be out there with the team again, play, run up and down, make some plays,” Antetokounmpo said.
“Never take it for granted. Definitely just miss it — miss being around my teammates, miss playing basketball. I just missed being out there and competing.”
The game was effectively over after the first quarter, with Milwaukee pouring in an astonishing 49 points in the opening period to take a 25-point lead into the second quarter.
Milwaukee improved to 30-17 in the Eastern Conference standings, in third place behind Boston and Philadelphia.
Detroit remain rooted to the bottom of the table on 12-37.
In other games on Monday, a Memphis Grizzlies side missing star Ja Morant crashed to a third straight loss in a 133-100 mauling by the Sacramento Kings in California.
Trey Lyles (24 points) led the scoring for Sacramento, whose balanced offensive unit had six players in double digits, with Harrison Barnes and Keegan Murray adding 20 apiece.
Memphis have lost all three games on their Western Conference road trip, with Monday’s loss following defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
In Portland, Damian Lillard finished with 37 points and 12 assists as the Trail Blazers blew out the San Antonio Spurs 147-127. Anfernee Simons (26 points) and Jusuf Nurkic (25) also posted big totals.