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Crucial ODI World Cup qualifying points at stake for UAE and Oman national cricket teams

The pathway toward qualification for the 2023 finals is complex and arduous but associate members have welcomed the number of games on offer Updated 12 May 2022 Jon Pike May 12, 2022 10:08 Qualification for the International Cricket Council men’s cricket World Cup finals, due to be played in India in October and November 2023,…

The pathway toward qualification for the 2023 finals is complex and arduous but associate members have welcomed the number of games on offer Updated 12 May 2022 Jon Pike May 12, 2022 10:08 Qualification for the International Cricket Council men’s cricket World Cup finals, due to be played in India in October and November 2023, has been underway since 2015. A new qualification process was introduced for this tournament, which is played every four years in the 50-over or one-day international (ODI) format. Thirty-two teams are taking part in the final stages of qualification, from which 10 will play in the finals, based on the results of a series of competitions. The 32 teams are divided into three leagues — a Super-League of 13 teams, a League 2 of seven teams and a Challenge League of 12 teams, divided into two groups. The results of the league matches will determine which teams advance directly to the finals, which are eliminated, and which advance to other supplementary qualifying tournaments through which they can qualify for the finals. Allocation to the leagues was based on ICC member status and previous rankings. It is in League 2 where the greatest regional interest lies, with Oman and UAE competing with Scotland, the US, Namibia, Nepal and Papua New Guinea. Matches in League 2 started in Scotland, one month after the 2019 final in which England beat New Zealand at Lords. All seven teams in League 2 will contest a total of nine tri-series. Each team will host all other teams for two ODIs and will tour every other country for two ODIs, generating 24 matches. The other 12 ODIs are to be played at neutral sites. Once each team has completed its 36 ODIs, those with the highest number of points will join the bottom five teams from the ODI Super League in the 2022 World Cup qualifier. The teams that finish fourth to seventh in League Two enter a qualifier play-off, being joined by the top two teams in the Challenge League, in which Qatar are competing. The top two teams in the play-off then progress to the 2022 World Cup qualifier, from which the top two teams will enter the World Cup finals. Currently, Oman is leading League 2 with 40 points, having played 32 of its 36 matches. Recently, it had a setback, losing two matches to Scotland in the final over. UAE is in third place with 22 points after 18 matches, just behind Scotland with 24 points from 16 matches. Between May 28 and June 15, two tri-series will be played in the US, which will host Scotland and UAE in one series, Nepal and Oman in another. The first is a historic event, as it will be the first to be played at the Moosa Stadium, Pearland, near Houston, Texas. It will also be the first occasion that four other international cricketing nations visit the US at the same time for back-to-back series. Moosa has recently become the US’s second accredited ODI venue, joining Lauderhill, Florida. The achievement of this status represents a remarkable story for its Pakistan-born founder. He built a series of car dealerships in Houston, sponsored the US men’s team, before investing in the land to develop the stadium, which carries his father’s name. Given that the US will be jointly hosting the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup, Moosa is well placed to bid to be one of the venues. The US men’s team will also be wanting to advance its cause in qualifying for the 2023 ODI World Cup in the forthcoming tri-series. Currently, it lies in fifth place with 16 points from 14 matches. It has not been able to play international cricket since September 2021 — an ODI series against Ireland fell victim to COVID-19 last December — so it is hard to judge if it is sharp enough to challenge both the UAE and Scotland. In preparation, US Cricket ran a 26-man training camp in April, as well as a Houston Challenge, in which a US Invitational XI played three teams made up of the best domestic talent. As reported two months ago, UAE cricket has been through turbulent times. This was caused by the revelation in 2019 of match-fixing by some players, their suspension and the later banning of seven experienced players. A change in policy by the Emirates cricket board to extend the number of central contracts, to focus on young talent, both men and women, contributed to qualification for the men’s ICC 2022 T20 World Cup finals in Australia and for the women’s T20 World Cup qualifying tournament to be held later this year. UAE women are in fine form for this, having beaten Hong Kong in all four games of a T20 series to record their 14th consecutive T20 win. Both the UAE and Oman men’s teams will be looking to enhance their reputations by finishing in the top three places in League 2, in order to enter the World Cup Qualifier. If so, competition will be strong, as they will meet Super-League opposition. The way in which those opponent’s positions will be determined has changed from previous editions, which was based on an ODI rankings table. Under the new structure, each of the 13 Super-League teams are scheduled to play four home and four away series, with each consisting of three ODIs, generating 24 matches per team. Scheduling constraints mean that each team will miss playing four of the 12 teams in the Super-League. The impact of the pandemic has led to postponements and the date for matches to be completed has been delayed until March 2023. Currently, Bangladesh leads the Super-League, having played 18 matches. The bottom five teams have played between 10 and 15 matches, so there is much cricket to be played before final positions will be known. The pathway toward qualification is complex and arduous for all teams. Yet, the overall reaction of associate members was to welcome the number of games and quality of opposition afforded by the new qualification process, although the enforced delays will now put pressure on their depth of resources. The next 10 months promises to produce some exhilarating cricket by associate nations.

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US calls for more crossing points for delivery of aid to Syria

More Iran sanctions needed to squeeze Hezbollah, says US Congressman Darrell Issa DAVOS, Switzerland: The Biden administration ought to apply further sanctions on Iran as a means of curtailing the influence of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon, says Darrell Issa, a US congressman who is part of the American delegation at the World Economic Forum. …

More Iran sanctions needed to squeeze Hezbollah, says US Congressman Darrell Issa DAVOS, Switzerland: The Biden administration ought to apply further sanctions on Iran as a means of curtailing the influence of its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon, says Darrell Issa, a US congressman who is part of the American delegation at the World Economic Forum.  Despite generating little of its own revenues, Hezbollah has long enjoyed free rein in Lebanon thanks to Iranian largess, Issa says. He believes targeting Iran with further sanctions would undermine the militia’s control over Lebanese affairs.  “As much as I want to sanction Hezbollah, the group doesn’t generate much of their own money,” Issa, a California Republican, told Arab News on the fringes of WEF in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.  “Their money is disproportionate because of Iranian influence. So, yes, while I do want more bank sanctions, those are ultimately irrelevant, unless we increase our sanctions on Iran.” Issa was among a group of US congressmen who traveled to Lebanon on a fact-finding mission in November last year, later reporting back to President Joe Biden and Congress to propose ways to help the Lebanese.  Iran has a policy of arming and funding proxy militias in neighboring countries to further its own geopolitical agenda, often to the detriment of the security and well-being of local populations.   Although Lebanon’s May 15 parliamentary election returned a poor result for Hezbollah and its allies, Issa says history shows the need to follow through on the results and not to simply return to business as usual. “If there’s a follow through, then there should be a new speaker and a new president free of unfair influence by Hezbollah,” Issa told Arab News.  “There should be a realignment of ministries, and more than anything else there should be a resolution to end corruption. “So far, the only thing we have are candidates who campaigned against corruption and who have achieved their goal of changing the majority, but they haven’t achieved the goal of ending corruption yet.” Hezbollah, the only militia that did not disarm after Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, lost its majority in the Lebanese parliament, with its bloc winning just 62 of the 128 seats on offer — three fewer than it needed.  The election of many anti-corruption independents has presented Lebanon with a rare opportunity to break free of the militia’s grip on public life and to carry out urgent reforms. Since 2019, Lebanon has been in the throes of its worst ever financial crisis, which has been further compounded by the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the nation’s political paralysis. For many Lebanese, the final straw was the Beirut port blast of Aug. 2020, which killed 218, injured 7,000, caused $15 billion in property damage, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. These concurrent crises have sent thousands of young Lebanese abroad in search of security and opportunity, including many of the country’s top medical professionals and educators. For Issa, preventing this brain-drain ought to be a high priority for any incoming government.  “Lebanon can turn around very quickly, but only if those people are still in the country,” Issa said. “And today, the US is trying to help, but there’s a lot of exodus from Lebanon, and that is going to hurt the recovery.”

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Salah staying at Liverpool ‘for sure’ next season

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year,…

salah-staying-at-liverpool-‘for-sure’-next-season

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year, they will also be confident about their prospects. The draw for qualification for both tournaments took place at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. In order to get a ticket to appear at the U-20 tournament, which will take place in Uzbekistan next year, Saudi Arabia will have to find some of the form that took them to the title back in 2018, when it was an U-19 competition. That was when the young Green Falcons defeated South Korea 2-1 in the final in Indonesia to be crowned continental champions. It is still their title to defend as the global pandemic ensured that the 2020 edition never took place, though Saudi Arabia had already booked a berth by winning their group in qualification back in November 2019.  Then they just managed to finish above Uzbekistan and have been grouped with the Central Asians once again in Group A, which will take place in September. This time, however, results against the White Wolves will not matter as they are already assured of a place in the tournament as host nation. That means that Saudi Arabia will just have to finish above China, Myanmar and the Maldives to guarantee a spot, though the five best-performing runners-up in the 10 groups will also go through. It would be a surprise if that did not happen and not least because all the games will be held in the eastern city of Dammam. Playing in front of their own fans in one of the country’s most passionate football cities will be a major advantage. China will be expected to provide the main test but with football going through a terrible time at the moment in the East Asian country, youth tournaments may not be the priority they once were. Chinese Super League clubs are going out of business, the country has given up hosting the 2022 Asian Games and the 2023 Asian Cup, and the future is very uncertain.  With the political situation in Myanmar, there has not been too much football played in recent months, and the young White Angels may be struggling for match fitness. Even when the Southeast Asians are at their best, a trip to Saudi Arabia is tough. And last but not least are the Maldives. The South Asians can be difficult opponents but should be no match for the defending champions, especially on their home patch.  The U-17 tournament, which has been rebranded from the past U-16 championships, will be held much closer to home, in neighboring Bahrain. Once again, the group, this time Group D, will be held in Dammam, and while it looks a little more challenging for the two-time champions, Saudi Arabia will again be strong favorites to progress with the format the same: the 10 group winners go through along with the five best runners-up to join the hosts Bahrain. The 2020 tournament did not go ahead thanks to the pandemic, but Saudi Arabia had booked their berth before it was called off by finishing above Oman, Pakistan and Syria in September 2019. The cancelation was a bitter pill to swallow for the boys from Riyadh, Jeddah and elsewhere as they had failed to qualify for the 2018 edition, losing out to Jordan. This group does not look quite so difficult as that. Interestingly, Myanmar and the Maldives are also opponents, and the same points apply to this age category as to the slightly older one. Neither will be expected to finish in the top two spots. India have ambitions in this regard and will relish the chance to test themselves against one of the continent’s big boys but maybe do not quite have the strength in depth to challenge in West Asia. Kuwait may be tricky. After suffering at the hands of Jordan in September 2017, the hosts will be wary of the Blues in October 2022. But given the opposition, home advantage and where Saudi Arabian football is currently at, both the U-17 and U-20 teams are strongly expected to make it to both Uzbekistan and Bahrain in 2023 and once there, will be expected to challenge for the big prize.

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Boehly’s Chelsea takeover puts US tycoon in spotlight

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year,…

Saudi favorites to reach U-17 and U-20 Asian Cups in 2023 after draw in Kuala Lumpur Defending champions Saudi Arabia have been handed a favorable draw in their qualification group for the U-20 Asian Cup in 2023, and while the U-17 team look to have a more difficult path to their continental championships next year, they will also be confident about their prospects. The draw for qualification for both tournaments took place at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. In order to get a ticket to appear at the U-20 tournament, which will take place in Uzbekistan next year, Saudi Arabia will have to find some of the form that took them to the title back in 2018, when it was an U-19 competition. That was when the young Green Falcons defeated South Korea 2-1 in the final in Indonesia to be crowned continental champions. It is still their title to defend as the global pandemic ensured that the 2020 edition never took place, though Saudi Arabia had already booked a berth by winning their group in qualification back in November 2019.  Then they just managed to finish above Uzbekistan and have been grouped with the Central Asians once again in Group A, which will take place in September. This time, however, results against the White Wolves will not matter as they are already assured of a place in the tournament as host nation. That means that Saudi Arabia will just have to finish above China, Myanmar and the Maldives to guarantee a spot, though the five best-performing runners-up in the 10 groups will also go through. It would be a surprise if that did not happen and not least because all the games will be held in the eastern city of Dammam. Playing in front of their own fans in one of the country’s most passionate football cities will be a major advantage. China will be expected to provide the main test but with football going through a terrible time at the moment in the East Asian country, youth tournaments may not be the priority they once were. Chinese Super League clubs are going out of business, the country has given up hosting the 2022 Asian Games and the 2023 Asian Cup, and the future is very uncertain.  With the political situation in Myanmar, there has not been too much football played in recent months, and the young White Angels may be struggling for match fitness. Even when the Southeast Asians are at their best, a trip to Saudi Arabia is tough. And last but not least are the Maldives. The South Asians can be difficult opponents but should be no match for the defending champions, especially on their home patch.  The U-17 tournament, which has been rebranded from the past U-16 championships, will be held much closer to home, in neighboring Bahrain. Once again, the group, this time Group D, will be held in Dammam, and while it looks a little more challenging for the two-time champions, Saudi Arabia will again be strong favorites to progress with the format the same: the 10 group winners go through along with the five best runners-up to join the hosts Bahrain. The 2020 tournament did not go ahead thanks to the pandemic, but Saudi Arabia had booked their berth before it was called off by finishing above Oman, Pakistan and Syria in September 2019. The cancelation was a bitter pill to swallow for the boys from Riyadh, Jeddah and elsewhere as they had failed to qualify for the 2018 edition, losing out to Jordan. This group does not look quite so difficult as that. Interestingly, Myanmar and the Maldives are also opponents, and the same points apply to this age category as to the slightly older one. Neither will be expected to finish in the top two spots. India have ambitions in this regard and will relish the chance to test themselves against one of the continent’s big boys but maybe do not quite have the strength in depth to challenge in West Asia. Kuwait may be tricky. After suffering at the hands of Jordan in September 2017, the hosts will be wary of the Blues in October 2022. But given the opposition, home advantage and where Saudi Arabian football is currently at, both the U-17 and U-20 teams are strongly expected to make it to both Uzbekistan and Bahrain in 2023 and once there, will be expected to challenge for the big prize.

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