Newcastle striker Saint-Maximin faces fitness race ahead of Fulham clash – Arab News

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NEWCASTLE: Eddie Howe has revealed Allan Saint-Maximin has suffered an injury setback — and the Newcastle United forward now faces a race against time to be fit to face Fulham in a fortnight.
Howe’s United lacked cutting edge on Saturday, as their starting XI, minus Saint-Maximin, struggled to break down a resolute AFC Bournemouth at St. James’ Park.
While Alexander Isak netted his second goal in three games since arriving in the summer, a Philip Billing strike ensured honors remained even — and consigned United to their fifth draw in their opening seven Premier League games.
And while Howe admits the Magpies missed their French forward, he is fearful United will have to do without him for a little bit longer.
“There’s a massive hole for someone like Maxi in a game like this when you need a little magic to unlock the door,” said Howe.
“With Allan, it’s slightly different (the injury). He has had a very minor setback with the physio.
“Whether or not he’ll be fit after the international is slightly unclear, but it’s certainly not long-term. It’s not clear if he’ll be fit for our next game yet.”
Without Saint-Maximin United have struggled to break down the door against two sides — Crystal Palace and Bournemouth — who are expected to occupy places in the bottom half of the Premier League. Both of those encounters have come on home turf and are very much being viewed by many as four points dropped.
Howe admits he is frustrated by what his side have dished up at St. James’ Park.
“Very disappointed,” he said. “I thought that was a performance below the levels that we’ve set ourselves. Probably for the first time this season, we dipped.”
He continued: “It’s difficult to know why at this moment. I felt we played in front of them too much, they obviously defended very deep. It was our responsibility to break through that and I just felt we were off a little in every aspect of their game.
“It was probably epitomised by the last 20 minutes. When we scored, you thought the game was set up for us to win and our decision-making and patience left us.
“It was a difficult watch at the end of the game. We needed to set ourselves and re-energise ourselves. We could have won the game but obviously it slipped away from us.”
United have now won just one of their opening seven top flight games, although they have also only lost once in that sequence.
“There’s a big sense of frustration in terms of the points we have because the majority of our performances have been very strong and we’ve deserved more from the games but the reality is we haven’t won those games we should have,” the head coach continued.
“We find ourselves in a position where we’ve only lost once and won once, a lot of draws. A lot of games, even similar to today, we had a number of chances, maybe not clear cut chances like Crystal Palace, but a number of chances where we weren’t clinical enough when those moments came.
“In a game like that, you really need to take the lead to try and open up your opponent. Lots of things we didn’t do well enough today. Most pleasing thing is we go a goal down and recovered and didn’t lose the game.”
Meanwhile, Howe has confirmed he expects Callum Wilson back for the visit to Craven Cottage after the international break.
“Callum’s doing very well,” Howe added. “We’re really pleased with his progress.
“He was close for today but we made an early decision that it would have been too big of a risk, so we hope, with a bit more time, there’s a chance the next game will be good for him.”
AGADIR: Sebastien Loeb is set for another tense battle with Nasser Al-Attiyah as he looks to build on his lead in the World Rally-Raid Championship when the Rallye du Maroc gets underway on Saturday.
Loeb, driving one of three Prodrive Hunters entered by Bahrain Raid Xtreme, holds a slender one-point advantage over Al-Attiyah as the inaugural W2RC series resumes in Agadir after a seven-month break.
Partnered by Fabian Lurquin, nine-time World Rally champion Loeb and the rest of the BRX team recently covered 2,500 km of testing in Morocco, in temperatures close to 50 C, a demanding preparation not only for the Rallye du Maroc, but also the 2023 Dakar Rally.
“We had a good feeling with the car and it was reliable, too, so everything is working well,” said Loeb.
“At the moment we are leading, but we know Nasser will be fast in Morocco and the gap is very small. So we have to fight hard to get some more good points for the title.”
Loeb finished runner-up to Al-Attiyah in this year’s Dakar before grabbing the championship lead from the Qatari in Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in March.
Argentina’s Orly Terranova and Spanish co-driver Alex Haro, who finished fourth in the Dakar, are also back in action with BRX in Morocco, while Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit will be partnered by Alex Winocq in a third Prodrive Hunter.
After being diagnosed with cancer in March and battling through treatment, BRX’s Nani Roma rejoined the team months ahead of schedule for testing in Morocco, having already been instrumental in the development of the Hunter.
The two-time Dakar winner has been equally involved in the development of the world’s first all-terrain hypercar, based on the Hunter rally car, which is being built in limited numbers to the individual specifications of select supercar enthusiasts.
Roma will be demonstrating and testing the Hunter hypercar for prospective buyers in Dubai in November. He will continue to work with BRX throughout the team’s rally program, which continues with the Andalucia Rally, the final round of the W2RC, from Oct. 18-21.
However, it is too late in the schedule for Roma to compete with the team in Morocco and Spain next month, and Dakar in January 2023.
From Agadir, Rallye du Maroc heads out for six stages covering 1,575 km and featuring more sand than seen in previous years. The BRX cars will again be using sustainable Eco-Power fuel, which reduces CO2 emissions by 80 percent.
Gus Beteli, the BRX team principal, said: “Following a very positive test in Morocco, we’re very much looking forward to being back rallying against the competition, the clock and the desert.
“Seb, Orly and Guerlain have further improved the package we have through not leaving any angle unexplored for this World Championship push. These are busy but exciting times at BRX.”
DOHA: Coronavirus vaccinations will not be mandatory for the million-plus fans going to the World Cup in Qatar this year, authorities in the Gulf state said on Thursday.
All visitors aged over six will have to produce negative COVID-19 tests before taking flights to Qatar for the tournament that starts November 20, the authorities said in new health guidelines.
The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the eruption of the Covid pandemic in December 2019.
The Qatar organizers and world football’s governing body FIFA have said they want the event to be a sign that the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.
But they have warned that health guidelines will change if the threat blows up again.
Fans will have to wear masks in public transport in Qatar and anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 “will be required to isolate in accordance with Ministry of Public Health guidelines,” the health ministry said.
The ministry added that it may force players, referees and officials to stay in a secure “bio-bubble” if coronavirus cases take off “to allow for the safe operation and continuation of the event.”
Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning take on Bahrain in their opening fixture of the ICC U-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Division 2 — Asia qualifiers taking place in Oman.
The youngsters from the Kingdom will then face the hosts on Saturday, Oct. 1, before concluding their Group A matches with a fixture against Bhutan on Monday, Oct 3.
The eight-team qualification campaign also includes Hong Kong, Qatar, Singapore and Thailand, who make up Group B, and will feature 16 matches over nine days.
The top two teams will then advance to the 2023 Asia Qualifier alongside already-qualified Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal and the UAE, with a place at the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2024 at stake.
The Saudi squad landed in Muscat on Wednesday after concluding a 45-day intensive training camp in Riyadh in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.
“We have carried out a talent hunt across the Kingdom and came up with 25 players, and coach Kabir Khan has done a good job training the boys.” said Tariq Ziad Sagga, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation (SACF). “The squad has an average age which is below 17, and we count on them [to be part of] future national teams.”
“We hope to qualify to the second round of the qualifications,” he added.
RIYADH: WWE superstar John Cena has officially entered the Guinness Book of World Records.
The multiple wrestling champion has set a new record for the most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, by reaching 650 for their beneficiaries.
Cena’s total was called a “herculean” effort by the Guinness World Records website as no celebrity had managed more than 200.
Make-A-Wish revealed that Cena, who over the last 16 years has become a Hollywood superstar as well, is their most requested celebrity since the foundation’s inception in 1980.
Cena first worked with Make-A-Wish in 2002, and reached his landmark record on July 19, 2022.
“I will drop what I’m doing and be involved because I think that’s the coolest thing,” the 45-year-old WWE superstar said in an interview with Reuters after being honored for completing 500 wishes in 2015.
“If I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part,” Cena added.
This isn’t the first time John Cena has had a major landmark with Make-A-Wish. He also granted the foundation’s 1,000th wish back in 2012.
Inside the ring, Cena is a 13-time WWE Champion, three-time World Heavyweight Champion, two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, two-time World Tag Team champion, five-time US Champion, two-time Royal Rumble match winner, and a 10-time Slammy Award Winner.
He is also tied with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair for the most world championship reigns in professional wrestling history.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps grant wishes for children aged two to 18 who have critical illnesses. The non-profit organization provides children the opportunity to meet their favorite celebrities, go to an event of their choice or grant a gift to someone else.
In 1980 a seven-year-old child Chris Greicius, who had been diagnosed with leukemia a year earlier, was granted a wish to be a policeman for a day by an officer he had befriended in Arizona.
The story inspired the creation of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which granted its first official wish to Frank “Bopsy” Salazar in 1981.
The Saudi women’s national football team on Wednesday night lost 4-2 to Bhutan in their second-ever international on home soil.
The defeat at Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium in Abha came four days after Monika Staab’s team had drawn 3-3 against Bhutan at the same venue.
The visitors broke the deadlock on 22 minutes through Shereng Yangdin before the same player doubled the lead only seven minutes later to leave the Saudis trailing 2-0 at the break.
Saudi Arabia reduced the deficit from a penalty by Maryam Al-Tamimi eight minutes into the second half, but Bhutan restored their two-goal lead as Yangdin completed her hat trick with another spot kick six minutes later.
Staab made several substitutions to raise her team’s tempo, but Bhutan asserted their dominance with a fourth goal on 68 minutes. Saudi star Al-Bandari Mubarak did manage to pull one goal back in the 72nd minute but there would be no addition to the scoreline as Bhutan ran out 4-2 winners.
The double-header of matches against Bhutan over the last five days marked the first matches the Saudi women’s team have played in the Kingdom, having previously played only two internationals, against the Seychelles and Maldives in February.

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