Bafetimbi Gomis pleads with organisers to not “break our dream” after depleted Al Hilal forced out of ACL by coronavirus

Bafetimbi Gomis has begged organisers to not “break our dream” after coronavirus infections within the Al Hilal camp saw the holders kicked out of the 2020 AFC Champions League because they were only able to select 11 players – including three goalkeepers – for their last Group B match.

More than 30 players and staff have returned positive tests, with at least four recoveries, since the stricken 2019/20 Saudi Professional League victors landed in Doha for the resumed West Zone, running from September 14-October 3. This number included ex-France centre forward Gomis, former Italy playmaker Sebastian Giovinco and flying Saudi Arabia winger Salem Al Dawsari.

The escalating problem for the then section leaders – who thought they’d secured a round-of-16 spot in match-day five – reached its crescendo for Wednesday night’s date with Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club when they could not reach the minimum requirements contained in the governing body’s rulebook of 13 players, including one shot stopper. This caused the match to be forfeited and all previous results cancelled, sending the UAE side and Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor through instead.

A war of words developed between the two parties, with the AFC and Hilal’s board of directors releasing contrasting statements. The Saudi giants decried a, perceived, lack of flexibility and stated further action was being considered, with Arriyadiyah newspaper subsequently reporting an intention to file a complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“The board of directors would like to… demonstrate the circumstances that Al Hilal is currently going through during the AFC Champions League in a centralised venue; following COVID-19 outbreak and reaching more than 30 active cases,” Hilal claimed.

“The board of directors has also clarified that they sought to work on a number of methods that preserve Al Hilal’s right to compete without any disorder

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UFC Fight Island: Abu Dhabi ready for second iteration and more if needed, hopes realistic for fan return

Abu Dhabi is ready for another month of UFC action – and will do all they can to try and get fans in to some of Fight Island 2’s later events.

The world’s biggest MMA promotion is back on Yas Island, with fights getting underway in the early hours of Sunday morning with UFC 253. Three Fight Nights will then follow before rounding things off with the return of Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254.

It is another blockbuster lineup that will cast the eyes of the sporting world on Abu Dhabi as the Emirate once again helps the UFC host international fight cards amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

On the back of a hugely successful first iteration of Fight Island in July, a bio-secure bubble has once again been set up in the UAE capital as the world’s best mixed martial artists get set to battle it out.

“We were very pleased to have this orgainsed on the back of the successful Fight Island 1.0,” said Saeed Al Saeed, Destination Marketing Director, from the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi.

“I don’t think any of us would have expected that only a couple of months later we would be back here again, quarantining for another fourteen days and going through the mammoth logistical undertaking of what we did – but here we are.”

When UFC president Dana White said he was looking for an island to host fights amid the pandemic, many scoffed. But the resulting partnership with the authorities in Abu Dhabi created a worldwide buzz – both bringing live sport back to starved fans, and also shining a light on the capabilities of Abu Dhabi.

“Obviously the first event was a huge success when it comes to the exposure Abu Dhabi got including people outside the UFC

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Casimero ready for coming out fight

FILE – John Riel Casimero works the mitts with Cuban trainer Pedro Roque. Photo from Team Casimero

MANILA, Philippines—It’s been a whirlwind 2020 for Filipino boxer John Riel Casimero.

First, his coming out party and his opportunity to unify his WBO title with Naoya Inoue’s IBF and WBA straps originally scheduled April 25 was shelved by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then, his trainer Nonoy Neri had to leave the United States and fly home to tend to his obligations. leaving an unmotivated Casimero to wait for another coach.

Fortunately, MP Promotions President Sean Gibbons managed to strike a deal with former WBA bantamweight champion Clarence “Bones” Adams who immediately connected with Casimero.

“That’s who Casimero is fighting for. He’s fighting for the Philippines, he isn’t fighting for himself,” said Adams in the RingTV report.

“Casimero, he’s just like Manny Pacquiao. I’m trying to get that out of him because he likes to wait around a little bit too long. So I’m trying to change it and make him a little bit busier and have the knockouts come a little bit earlier.”

Casimero (29-4) faces undefeated Duke Micah from Ghana for his title defense, and he will feature in the Charlo brothers Showtime pay-per-view at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut this Sunday (Manila time), as per RingTV.com.

What made the transition easy for Adams was he already knew Gibbons for 30 years, having been married to a Filipino.

Adams knew that Casimero isn’t the most well-known boxer from the Philippines with the sport’s landscape in the Philippines still largely under the shadow of Pacquiao.

Casimero already won titles in the light flyweight, flyweight, and bantamweight divisions, but barely made a dent in the Philippine consciousness.

“He’s tremendously underrated, this man has been to 10 different countries, and fought and won. People here

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