Saudi King's Cup draw puts Al-Hilal against Al-Jabalin – Arab News
RIYADH: Title holder Al-Hilal will face Al-Jabalin in the 2023-2024 season’s 32nd round of the King’s Cup following the draw on Wednesday.
Al-Nassr and Roshn Leage winners Al-Ittihad will face Ohod and Al-Kholood respectively.
The 32nd knockout stage matches will be played during September 24-27.
The 32 teams were divided into two tiers, where the first includes last season’s Saudi Roshn League teams and the winner and runner-up of Yelo First Division League. 
The second tier includes the rest of Yelo League teams, relegated teams from Roshn League, and the winner of the Second Division League. 
Al-Taawoun will face Al-Qadsiah, Al-Wehda will go up against Al-Orobah, and Damac will meet Al-Qaisumah.
Al-Ettifaq will host Jeddah team, while Al-Ain will face Yelo League winner Al-Ahly.
The 2021-2022 King’s Cup winners Al-Fayha will go up against newly promoted Al-Riyadh, while Qassim’s Al-Hazm will host Al-Arabi.
Hail’s Al-Ta’i will travel to face Al-Faisaly, Abha will host Hajar, while Riyadh’s Al-Shabab will go against Al-Batin.
The draw put Al-Khaleej up against Al-Adalah, Al-Raed will clash with Al-Najmah, while Al-Fateh will play Al-Okhdood.
Last season, Al-Hilal beat Al-Wehda in a penalty shootout the claim the trophy.
Al-Hilal V Al-Jabalin
Al-Nassr V Ohod
Al-Ittihad V Al-Kholood
Al-Taawoun V Al-Qadsiah
Al-Wehda V Al-Orobah
Damac V Al-Qaisumah
Al-Ettifaq V Jeddah 
Al-Ain V Al-Ahly.
Al-Fayha V Al-Riyadh
Al-Hazm V Al-Arabi
Al-Ta’i V Al-Faisaly
Abha V Hajar
Al-Shabab V Al-Batin
Al-Khaleej V Al-Adalah
Al-Raed V Al-Najmah
Al-Fateh V Al-Okhdood
MANCHESTER, UK: Liverpool snapped Manchester City’s 23-match winning run at the Etihad as a clash between the Premier League’s top two ended 1-1 on Saturday.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s fine strike 10 minutes from time salvaged a point for the visitors after Erling Haaland’s 50th Premier League goal put City in front.
A share of the spoils means there remains just one point between the sides and that Arsenal can now take top spot from City if they win at Brentford later on Saturday.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made his displeasure clear at the early kick-off time on the back of an international break where both sides had players in World Cup qualifying action in South America little over 72 hours ago.
Fatigue appeared a factor as the expected fireworks failed to materialize.
“Preparing for the most difficult game of the season with one (training) session is really a challenge,” said Klopp.
“We’re still in a process. If we’d played really well today, we could have won — we didn’t. We played ok.”
City boss Pep Guardiola lauded the manner in which his side restricted a free-scoring Liverpool to precious few chances.
But the English champions lacked precision themselves in the final third and were made to pay for not building on their lead.
“I am really proud that after eight years we are still playing that way,” said Guardiola. “We were really good in all departments and needed to be against an incredible team.
“Maybe we missed the last pass a little bit but they defended really well.”
Alisson Becker was let off the hook by Phil Foden’s weak shot after the Brazilian gifted away possession inside his own box.
But the Liverpool goalkeeper was not so fortunate when his next sliced clearance picked out Nathan Ake.
The Dutch defender dribbled forward before picking out Haaland, who found the far corner on 27 minutes.
Haaland’s 50th Premier League goal in his 48th appearance smashed the previous record for the quickest half century held by Andy Cole in 65 matches.
At the other end, Darwin Nunez was Liverpool’s biggest threat as Mohamed Salah failed to build on his impressive record against City.
Ederson clawed away Nunez’s first-half header and turned a powerful effort behind at his near post after the break.
But it was City who had looked the more likely to add to their lead in the second half as Liverpool struggled to contain the speed of Jeremy Doku on the counter-attack.
The Belgian winger teed up Julian Alvarez with a glorious chance that the Argentine spooned over.
Alisson was handed another let-off 20 minutes from time when he spilled a corner under minimal pressure from Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias tapped home.
However, a VAR check did not overturn the referee’s on-field decision to award the Liverpool ‘keeper a soft free-kick.
Instead it was the Reds who hit back against the run of play when Salah laid the ball into Alexander-Arnold’s path for a fantastic finish into the bottom corner.
City pushed for a winner and were inches away when Haaland headed wide in eight minutes of added time, but they were thwarted as Guardiola’s men failed to win at home for the first time since December 31 last year.
Tensions then boiled over after full-time when Klopp had to pull Nunez away from an altercation with Guardiola but both coaches played down the significance of that incident.
MADRID: Spanish champions Barcelona slipped up in a 1-1 draw at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday in La Liga, continuing a worrying run of underwhelming performances.
Surprise leaders Girona and rivals Real Madrid in second now have the chance to extend their lead on the third-place Catalans over the next two days.
Unai Lopez drove Rayo ahead from long range in the first half but Barca levelled through Florian Lejeune’s own goal in the 82nd minute.
The draw adds to the doubts around Barcelona, who have not been at their best for several weeks and face Porto on Tuesday seeking Champions League knock-out round qualification.
Inaki Pena started in goal for Barca with Marc-Andre ter Stegen out with a back problem, while Xavi turned to the fit-again Frenkie de Jong to replace the injured Gavi in midfield.
The 19-year-old’s cruciate ligament tear will keep him out for the season, with Barcelona losing a player the coach has described as the “soul” of the team.
Barcelona players wore shirts before kick off with his name on the back, and a message saying “we are with you, Gavi.”
Pena spilled the ball the first time he was called into action but recovered quickly to clear up the danger.
The goalkeeper then denied Oscar Valentin after De Jong lost the ball on the edge of his own box.
Hosts Rayo started well, encouraged by having beaten Barca on three of their four previous clashes, including twice at their ramshackle Vallecas stadium.
They took the lead after 39 minutes when Lopez hammered a superb effort into the bottom right corner from around 30 yards out after the ball was cleared into his path.
Rayo came close to adding a second in stoppage time but Alejandro Balde was alert to cut Jorge de Frutos’ low cross out with two Rayo attackers ready to pounce.
Xavi said Barca would miss Gavi’s “intensity, heart and courage” against Francisco Rodriguez’s side and he was proven right, although they improved a little after the break.
Ferran Torres might have levelled early in the second half with a header but sent it too close to Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.
Xavi immediately replaced the winger, along with Oriol Romeu after another disappointing shift at the base of Barca’s midfield, sending Ilkay Gundogan and Joao Felix on.
Pedri headed narrowly over from Robert Lewandowski’s cross and Inigo Martinez nodded a Gundogan free kick off target too as Barca sought the equalizer.
Raphinha’s raking effort struck the post and Rayo hacked Lewandowski’s attempted finish from the rebound off the line.
Eventually the Catalans levelled with eight minutes remaining when Lejeune diverted Balde’s cross into his own net, under pressure from Lewandowski.
Raphinha appealed for a penalty in stoppage time when he fell after Pacha Espino challenged him, but the officials did not oblige.
Barcelona now have failed to beat Rayo in five matches and could fall seven points behind Girona if they beat Athletic Bilbao on Monday at Montilivi.
Real Madrid, two points clear of Barca, visit Cadiz on Sunday, while fourth place Atletico Madrid host Mallorca later Saturday.
NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has questioned the media circus around this week’s Premier League vote and the focus on the Saudi Pro League when discussing the Magpies’ January transfer plans.
Despite reports to the contrary, and having admitted his liking for Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves, Howe has revealed he has no intention of raiding any one of the four SPL clubs also owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
That revelation comes after a controversial Premier League vote on whether to close the rule loophole which allows players to be loaned between clubs with the same owners.
On Tuesday, the vote failed, with eight of the top flight’s 20 clubs voting against the changes. A majority of 14 was needed in order for the rules to be altered. With laws remaining unaltered, the subsequent days have been filled with reports of Howe’s interest in Neves, and Newcastle’s intent to exploit the Saudi market.
That is news to Howe, however. Asked whether he would look to the SPL’s PIF four for January loan deals, he said: “It’s not even in our thoughts at this moment in time. As I said, at the start of the season, January was not a window that we were looking to invest in. It would only be a reaction to the injuries that we have and whether we need to recruit because the majority of our players would be back in January, at this moment in time we don’t know.”
On the vote itself, Howe was quick to turn attention away from Newcastle United, although they do, of course, now have more options that they would have if the loophole had been closed.
“You say Newcastle’s favor, it was a Premier League vote; we’re not the only club involved in that vote,” Howe said.
“I think the majority of clubs in the Premier League own other clubs around the world, so it’s not solely on us, I don’t think.
“Newcastle, as a club, had a view. We voted our way in the way we’re allowed to and the vote came out on the side that it did. Just from my dealings with it, we’re very relaxed on it. It’s not the be-all and end-all for us.
“Nothing irritates me. I found it a bit strange that the focus has been solely on us. Every club has a right to vote how they want to vote and it hasn’t gone through so it’s not just about us. I think it’s the same for everybody. I understand the focus being solely on us, but it’s not solely on us. This is a vote for all Premier League clubs. We’ll be potentially allowed to recruit from a league, just like every Premier League club can as well.
“We’ve got a squad we really like. If we can get players fit before January, the need to recruit will become much less intense for us.”
Injuries are the major talking point at Newcastle, although that situation has, if potentially temporarily, eased.
Alexander Isak is expected to be in contention against Chelsea this weekend, along with Bruno Guimaraes, while a late call will be made on fellow midfielder Sean Longstaff. Miguel Almiron, Kieran Trippier and Fabian Schar have been passed fit. Lewis Hall is ineligible against the Blues, as he is on loan from Stamford Bridge this season.
Injuries are likely to shape any moves in the winter window, according to Howe, who is without the likes of long-term absentees Callum Wilson, Harvey Barnes, Dan Burn and Sven Botman.
Howe said: “Certainly we’re going to have to be reactive, I think, because we’ve got injuries in different areas of the squad; there’s not necessarily one area, there’s a few areas. I think that will be a decision made toward the window opening, rather than now. To sort of form any plans now would be a mistake. Of course, we’re doing the work now to prepare for that.”
“It’s hard to make any kind of decision as I sit here now because the squad could look very different by Jan. 1. The squad could look a lot stronger. I say ‘could’ because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks. In general, I’m against making short-term decisions unless we absolutely have to. Last January, we invested in Anthony Gordon, who we really believed could be a top talent here for many, many years. He was the right personality at that time to improve the squad. I think they’re the types of signings that we want to be making. Sat here now, though, I’ve no idea whether we’ll be in a position to do that.”
One player Howe did not expect to be without long-term was summer signing Sandro Tonali.
The former AC Milan man is serving a 10-month ban for illegal betting activities, but has been allowed to train with his teammates during that period. Howe admits he is frustrated on that front, however, with the Italian midfielder looking sharper than ever behind the scenes, at a time when the Magpies could really do with him on the pitch.
Howe said: “Sandro has been training very well, which makes it even more frustrating for us that we can’t use him, especially in this moment when we really need him. He’s a player training, he’s fit and he’s looked really good.
“Despite the obvious frustration for me, I’m very pleased that he’s training at that level, and that’s a hallmark of his character because it’s very difficult when you’ve got such a long period out to keep your focus day-to-day and do your job as well as you can, and he’s certainly done that.
“So far, he’s coping very well with his situation in the fact that he’s doing extra work. He’s trying to improve himself despite the fact he can’t play for such a long time. You wouldn’t know from our training sessions that he’s unavailable to play, and it’s probably been the best we have seen him in training. That’s natural because he’s getting used to his surroundings and he’s comfortable now. I’d love to see him when he comes back into the team because I think he will be a huge player for us.”
RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil: FIFA has started disciplinary proceedings over the crowd disturbances that caused a delay in the World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium on Thursday, according to media reports.
Brazil and Argentina fans started fighting behind one of the goals during the national anthems, prompting police to charge at the traveling contingent with batons drawn.
The visiting world champions, led by captain Lionel Messi, went over to the terraces to try and calm the situation before leaving the pitch for more than 10 minutes.
“FIFA can confirm that its Disciplinary Committee has opened proceedings against the Brazilian Football Association (CBF) and the Argentinian Football Association (AFA),” said a statement reported by the BBC.
Argentina face disciplinary action from soccer’s world governing body for the “crowd disturbance” and delayed kick-off.
FIFA added that Brazil are under investigation for potential violations of ‘Article 17’ of the disciplinary code, which relates to maintaining order and security during matches.
The game started after the long delay and Argentina won 1-0 with a 63rd-minute header from defender Nicolas Otamendi.
BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Xavi confirmed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen will miss the Spanish champions’ La Liga clash with Rayo Vallecano on Saturday due to back pain.
“Tomorrow Marc can’t make it and we have full confidence in Inaki Pena, who is 100 percent ready,” Xavi told a news conference Friday.
Pena, 24, is a product of the club’s youth academy and has played for the Barcelona first team five times.
Barcelona have been beaten in their last two visits to face Rayo at Vallecas and trail surprise La Liga leaders Girona by four points.
Frenkie de Jong is available after injury but Barca will also be without tireless midfielder Gavi for the rest of the season after he suffered a cruciate ligament injury while playing for Spain last week.
In Spanish media some have looked to blame national team coach Luis de la Fuente but Xavi said the injury was not his fault.
“I have no problem with De la Fuente, it’s a problem with the calendar and too many games,” explained Xavi.
“With the age (Gavi) is, he’s played a lot of games and the calendar is full of matches, and that’s the reason for the injury, along with bad luck.”
He continued: “He’s an irreplacable player for the passion, desire and courage that he puts out there.”
Xavi has suggested changes to football’s calendar in the past to stop players leaving for international duty throughout the season, and brought it up again.
“A small solution is to play eight or nine months with the club and then have a period for European qualifiers and the Euros,” he said.
“It’s not easy that each month there’s so much travel — nine months with the club and two with the national team.”







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