MENA Sports Wrap: Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi scoring spree

MENA Sports Wrap: Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi scoring spree
MENA Sports Wrap: Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged two hat-tricks in just three days, while... other sports stuff happened, I think
4 min read
05 April, 2024
Ronaldo was on form for Al-Nassr this week with six goals in two games [Getty/TNA]

Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Hilal both made staggering achievements this week in the Saudi Pro League, with a phenomenal double hat-trick for the Portuguese star and an unprecedented 29 consecutive wins for the Riyadh side.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's bid to becoming a regional bastion for sports was boosted this week as the kingdom announced it will host the Women's Tennis Association Finals.

Meanwhile Sudan's Al-Hilal hope to give countrymen and women something to cheer about, as they compete in the Tanzanian league.

Ronaldo bags six goals in 72 hours for Al-Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged two hat-tricks in three days for Al-Nassr, adding to his remarkable tally in the Saudi Pro League.

The Portuguese forward scored six goals in 72 hours for the Riyadh club, in Al-Nassr's 5-1 win over Al-Tai and a 8-0 thrashing of Abha.

Ronaldo is now the top goal scorer in the Saudi Pro League with 29 goals and with nearly two months to go until the end of the season he is almost certain to increase the tally/

Despite these goals, Al-Nassr are still 12 points behind their Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal who are top of the league.

Al-Hilal - who boast stars such as Aleksandar Mitrović, Neymar, and Rúben Neves - this week set a global top-tier record with 29 consecutive wins following a gruelling 2-1 victory over Damac.

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Meanwhile another renowned goal scorer could be playing in the Saudi Pro League next season with Belgium star Romelu Lukaku linked with a move to the kingdom.

While no team has been named, Chelsea are currently looking to off-load the player in the summer for around £40 million following a successful loan spell at Roma with ten goals in 27 games.

Only the Big Four in Saudi Arabia - Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli - would likely have the resources to clinch the services of the striker, while Al-Hilal have been linked to the Belgian in the past.

A Riyadh derby pitting Ronaldo against Lukaku would certainly garner more attention for Saudi football.

Saudi Arabia secures WTA finals with record prize pot

Saudi Arabia will host the next three editions of the Women's Tennis Association Finals, with a record-breaking prize money of $15.25 million up for grabs.

The 2024-2026 finals will see the top eight women’s singles players and doubles pairs play in Riyadh.

This year’s tour-ending championship will take place in Riyadh between 2 and 9 November.

"Bringing the WTA Finals to Riyadh is an exciting new opportunity for us and a positive step for the long-term growth of women’s tennis as a global and inclusive sport," WTA chair Steve Simon said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia’s securing the deal comes after it missed out on hosting the 2023 Finals to Mexico.

Thursday’s announcement follows months of anticipation, with several big names coming out to warn against granting Saudi Arabia a ‘sports washing’ opportunity with the tour.

In a January Washington Post op-ed , Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert said allowing the kingdom to host the event would be a ‘step backward’.

"Taking a tournament there would represent a significant step backward, to the detriment not just of women's sport, but women," the pair, who had an iconic sporting rivalry in the 70s and 80s, said.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly looking to host major sports events in a bid to diversify its economy, provide more entertainment opportunities, and encourage the population to exercise more.

Sudan champions Al Hilal to play in Tanzanian top flight to 'distract people' from war

Sudan’s champions Al-Hilal have entered into an agreement with the Tanzanian Football Federation (TFF) so they can continue playing top flight football as a distraction from the country's devastating war.

Al-Hilal will now be included in the roster for the Tanzanian Premier League (TPL) in August.

After almost a year of brutal conflict, Sudan’s society has been torn apart, with 14,000 people killed, over 8 million displaced and a humanitarian situation that the UN is warning could turn into the world’s biggest hunger crisis.

Amid all this devastation, Al-Hilal are trying to give their millions of fans in Sudan something to take their minds off the country's struggles.

"We are playing during this very sad moment to distract our people from the war," Dr Hassan Ali, Al Hilal's secretary general, told BBC Sport Africa.

“The majority of football fans in Sudan sometimes don't have anything, even during normal times. What they have is victories of Al Hilal, which make them happy with their families.

“It is a moral responsibility. It is not playing for winning points and cups. No, we play for our fans to keep their morale high.”

Although Al-Hilal will be on the roster for every round of the TPL, all of their games will count as friendlies to ensure fairness to Tanzanian clubs.

The TFF said this set up will ensure Al-Hilal continues to receive income and also increase the popularity of Tanzanian football.