100 school kids beat trio of Brazilian football legends at Riyadh Homecoming Festival – Arab News

RIYADH: Brazilian football legends Ronaldinho, Kaka and Roberto Carlos on Tuesday night took part in a light-hearted kickabout with a group of Saudi school children in the Star Return 2022 event at Riyadh’s Mrsool Park.
As part of the Riyadh Homecoming Festival activities, the event saw 100 boys and girls beat the three World Cup winners 2-1.
Ronaldinho said that this was a good opportunity to meet Saudi children whose love of football reminded him of himself as a kid.
Kaka recalled playing for his country against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh 20 years ago, a match Brazil won 1-0 only months before they would go on to also win the 2002 World Cup held in Japan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, Roberto Carlos said that he was happy to take part in the kickabout with the children and advised them to concentrate on their education, be patient and love football. He also expressed his delight to meet up again with his former international colleagues Ronaldinho and Kaka.

The match ended with the children winning 2-1 and was marked by a wonderful display of skills from three of the greatest players of the 1990s and 2000s.
While all three were part of the Brazil squad at the 2002 World Cup, only Ronaldinho and Roberto Carlos played in the 2-0 win against Germany in the final.
Although the legends of Star Return 2022 were national teammates, they also have a long and exciting history of competing against each other for their clubs.
Ronaldinho spent the most successful years of his career at Barcelona and faced Roberto Carlos in several El Clasico encounters during the latter’s time at Real Madrid. Kaka, who also played for Real Madrid, spent his best days at AC Milan, often coming up against his countrymen in the Champions League.
As part of the event’s activities, the players signed 100 school bags bearing the event’s name and logo, in addition to the logo of the Riyadh Homecoming Festival, which is organized by the General Entertainment Authority.
RIYADH: Of the four Arab teams at the World Cup, Asia’s pair Saudi Arabia and Qatar have head coaches from France and Spain, respectively.
Africa has a different approach and has gone local with Tunisia having Jalel Kadri and, last week, Morocco appointing Walid Regragui to take control of the team less than three months from the start of the World Cup in November.
There is not much time before the tests against Croatia, Belgium, and Canada but fans are, for the moment at least, feeling much happier.
The appointment hardly came as a surprise and was expected ever since Vahid Halilhodzic was fired in August. Spare a thought for the Bosnian boss as he became the first to successfully lead three teams to a World Cup only to be fired before the tournament started.
Ivory Coast pulled the trigger in 2010 after a poor performance at the Africa Cup of Nations. Japan did the same in 2018 after Halilhodzic’s relationships with certain players broke down, and in the case of Morocco it was a combination of the two, though more of the latter.
Falling out with star player Hakim Ziyech cost the man who led Algeria to the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup, the chance to go to Qatar.
In September last year, Halilhodzic dropped the Chelsea attacker saying that he had feigned injury to avoid being called up to face Ghana in June 2021.
Halidhozic said: “For the first time in my coaching career, I have seen behavior that disappoints me. A player who refuses to play a game, admittedly a friendly, on the pretext that he is injured.” The coach also dropped Ajax, now Bayern Munich, full-back Noussair Mazraoui.
Had results been better perhaps the outcome could have been different.
Morocco may have qualified for the World Cup in March, but the Atlas Lions crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations at the quarter-final stage in January. In June, came a comprehensive 3-0 loss to the US in a friendly that heightened concerns about where the team was going.
In the end, it came to a choice between star players and a combustible coach. Quite quickly, the media and fans chose the players. The writing on the wall came in July when the Royal Moroccan Football Federation seemed to be of the same opinion too. Federation president, Fouzi Lekjaa, said on radio that Ziyech would be in Qatar. The problem was that the former Ajax man had already made it clear that he was not going to play under the Bosnian.
“I will never play under (the management of) this national team coach again, no matter what he does,” Ziyech, recently linked to Manchester United, told Dutch football commentator Hans Kraay Jr. in a May interview. “Whether he flies high, flies low, stands on my doorstep, wants to sleep in my attic or in the basement, I will not play under the command of this coach.”
The axe fell and Halilhodzic was out of the door.
Four years ago, he was so angry by the Japanese dismissal that he hit the Japanese Football Association with a lawsuit (which he dropped a few months later) but this time he just seems a little sad and resigned and is talking about retiring.
He told Bosnian media: “Everything that was happening hit me hard. So, am I cursed? According to statistics, I am their most successful coach in history, but, well, that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s not a sport. I’m sorry that this is happening to me for the third time in my career, especially since I know how much work and effort I put in.”
Now comes Regragui, at 47, 22 years Halilhodzic’s junior. The former Moroccan international led Fath Union Sport to the league in 2016. He then headed to Doha to deliver the 2020 Qatar Stars League crown to Al-Duhail. In 2021, he returned home and led Wydad Casablanca to the African Champions League as well as the domestic title. In July, he stepped down from the club and the rest was inevitable.
The new boss is dynamic, regarded as tactically astute and a student of the game and the opposition too and always ready to change things around depending on what is happening on the pitch. Friendlies against Paraguay and Chile in Spain in September, presumably with Ziyech present, will be vital to prepare for the big tournament when the Atlas Lions want to repeat their success of 1986 when they became the first team from Africa to reach the knockout stages.
It remains to be seen if recent events will make that more likely but at the moment at least, turning to a local coach has put a spring in the step of Morocco.
CAIRO: The Asian Tour’s groundbreaking International Series has expanded its schedule with a first-ever visit to Egypt, with players teeing off at Cairo’s Madinaty Golf Club from Nov. 10 to 13.
The event boasts prize money of $1.5 million and will play a key role in determining the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, as well as the International Series money list winner.
“This has been an unprecedented season and we are delighted to be able to announce exciting news about the Asian Tour’s first visit to Egypt,” said Cho Minn Thant, commissioner and CEO of the organization. “The International Series Egypt is a spectacular addition to our schedule that will provide our members with a unique opportunity to compete somewhere new while allowing the Tour to broaden its reach.”
The announcement of the event coincides with the country emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Series is set to be the largest professional golf event staged in the country this century.
Madinaty Golf Club, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in late 2020, is already playing an active role on the Egyptian golf scene, having hosted the country’s prestigious amateur championship.
Josh North, general manager of the club, said: “All of us at Madinaty Golf Club are delighted to be hosting the International Series at the club for the first time. Our agronomy team is already closely cooperating with the Asian Tour to ensure that the course is in peak condition come November. This will be an exciting experience for our wider team too and we are already hard at work to ensure that we hit our targets and achieve the same goal in making this the very best tournament it can be.”
Mark Chapleski, executive vice-president of Troon International, whose venues host large events, said: “We are incredibly excited to be hosting the International Series for the first time in Egypt and we thank the Asian Tour for their trust in Madinaty and Troon to host this event. Madinaty Golf Club is a special venue and Troon would like to congratulate our team and ownership for being selected to host this major golf tournament.”
MANILA: Manny Pacquiao, who retired from boxing last year for a tilt at the Philippines presidency, said on Tuesday that he is considering an exhibition fight in Saudi Arabia in January.
The 43-year-old legendary former world champion is to hold talks over a fight against French former sparring partner Jaber Zayani in Riyadh.
“We will just start discussions,” Pacquiao, who previously ruled out a return to professional boxing, said by telephone from his home city of General Santos where he is preparing for a charity bout against a South Korean YouTuber.
Pacquiao ended his 26-year boxing career with a points defeat to Cuban Yordenis Ugas in August 2021 and, as well as being a former senator, made a failed bid earlier this year to be president of his country.
“I will prepare in the same way I train for a real fight,” Pacquiao said of his charity match against martial arts YouTuber DK Yoo on December 10 in Seoul.
The fight over six rounds has no agreed weight limit, potentially putting Pacquiao at a physical disadvantage against the bigger Yoo.
Yoo has more than 650,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he promotes his self-styled form of martial arts called “warfare combat system.”
“I know I will not win against him but I will try my best to surprise Manny Pacquiao,” Yoo said previously.
Most of the money raised from the event will go toward rebuilding homes in conflict-ravaged Ukraine, organizers said.
Pacquiao is set to join other retired boxing greats who have ventured onto the exhibition circuit.
Floyd Mayweather, who has called himself the “pioneer of exhibitions,” dominated YouTuber Logan Paul in a fight last year and knocked out Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in two minutes in December 2018.
Both fights were widely ridiculed.
Mayweather, Pacquiao’s rival from their boxing days, will fight Japanese mixed martial arts star Mikuru Asakura in Japan later this month.
Kevin De Bruyne insists there will be no “shame” or regret if he doesn’t win the Champions League with Manchester City.
Despite winning the English Premier League four times in the past five seasons, Europe’s biggest prize has so far eluded the Abu Dhabi-owned club.
There has been only frustration and disappointment as City have come so near, yet so far in fulfilling their dream of becoming European champions for the first time.
“Obviously you want to win it,” midfielder De Bruyne, 31, told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
“If I never win it, it’s not a shame, because we have been consistently fighting for it. I don’t see anything as a regret when I have given it my best shot.
“I cannot complain with how my career went, or the trophies that I have won at many teams.”
City visit Sevilla on Tuesday for their Group G opener as again one of the favorites to take the title.
De Bruyne, who has won 10 major trophies since joining the club in 2015, suffered a fractured nose and eye socket when City lost the final to Chelsea a year ago.
He was then substituted in May’s 3-1 semifinal second-leg loss to Real Madrid, where the eventual winners launched a dramatic comeback from two goals down on aggregate with a last-minute double from Brazilian Rodrygo.
“At the moment it hurts what happened last season, and before,” said the Belgium international.
“I think afterwards when you reflect on situations, sometimes you lose and in that moment it can be painful, but after you have to take it as it is.
“It’s not that we gave it away. We lost against good teams and certain situations were not in our favor and that happens and you have to accept it.
“I think the team has been ready for years to win it. But look at the Real Madrid situation, it just changed in five minutes.
“Two games don’t change my opinion of the way we played. In my opinion, we played the home game good and the away game decent,” said De Bruyne.
“But five minutes changed everything. If we would win, or they don’t score those two goals, it is a different view obviously. But that happens and you cannot base opinions on five-minute events,” he added.
“It’s never a regret because I tried everything, the team tried everything.”
City are in a group with Borussia Dortmund and FC Copenhagen.
De Bruyne’s contribution will be integral to City’s hopes of dethroning Real Madrid as champions.
The 15-goal exploits of French striker Karim Benzema proved decisive for the Spanish side as they won a 14th European Cup by overcoming Liverpool 1-0 in the Paris final.
Benzema, 34, is now widely expected to receive this year’s Ballon d’Or, an honor De Bruyne, despite being nominated seven times, may never claim unless he can help City to Champions League success.
He added: “It’s an honor to be in that list for many many years now and it’s nice to have the recognition for the work you do.
“Would I like to win it? Obviously every player would. But individual awards are something after all the rest and it depends on many many things.”
The second edition of the Saudi Sports for All’s five-week Summer Camps Program concluded last month showing a massive rise in participation among young people aged six to 18.
This year’s program from July 17 across 13 centers in 11 cities, wrapped up on Aug. 17. A total of 8,100 attended, up from the previous 1,290, an increase of over 500 percent.
A total of 2,668 young people participated in the activities on Aug. 10, and 2,663 showed up on the last day.
The SFA’s Summer Camps encourage youths —citizens, residents and tourists — to nurture their creativity while becoming fit through “edutainment.”
The camps promote the importance of team sports, teaching children and youths the value of physical exercise and activities. Over the course of the five-week program, participants are encouraged to play several sports including volleyball, basketball and football, and participate in home-management lessons and over 300 entertainment activities.
Interviewed by the SFA during one of the summer camp events, one participant’s mother said: “The environment was great in terms of coaching and logistics. Additionally, the SFA team was very responsive and helpful, with the trainers being of high quality and competence. From the very beginning of the camps to the end, you could see just how instructive the program was for the participants, with the children and youths clearly learning a great deal.”
A young boy, who participated in the program, said: “Prior to attending the program, I was always on my phone or watching TV. When my friends told me about the summer camps, I immediately joined. I found it very enjoyable and had a lot of fun taking part in physical activities and games. I learned a lot from the many classes I attended and made several friends. The highlight for me, however, was the volleyball games. I didn’t know how to play volleyball before joining the program, but now I love it.”
One young female participant said: “The summer camps really brought out the sports fan in me. It is something I now embrace as a part of who I am. Over the summer, I enjoyed playing so many sports, my favorites being basketball, football, and taekwondo.”
The SFA is the main body responsible for developing community sports and raising physical activity levels in Saudi Arabia to 40 percent by 2030. It has also launched a Tennis for All Program.
Hosted at SFA Neighborhood Clubs in Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Province, the 16-week program was set up to introduce tennis to a new generation of fans.


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