By Phil Caplan, Date: 12/2/13
Saudi Select and the Lebanese RL Federation have named their squads for the second U18s MENA clashes, which this year has been expanded to two games. The sides will meet in Beirut on Valentineâ€™s Day and again two days later.
The hard work of the Saudi coaches is bearing fruit with ten of their 19-man squad having come through the ranks from the U14s. It is led by captain Hasan Zakzouk who has made the most appearances for the Camels, and is keen to beat the hosts after the sides drew 18-all in 2012.
“We were so disappointed not to win last year and we are determined to bring the cup back to Jeddah this time,” he said. The visitors are further bolstered by the return of Rackan Al Moukhtar who spent two weeks with Warrington Wolvesâ€™ youth department and decided to go to college in the north west of England to continue his development as a player.
The squad completed its final warm-up game against the Jeddah Barbarians; a team made up of coaches, JRFC players and some Saudi Select U16s, which ended in a 24-all draw.
The young Cedars, who have not beaten Saudi Select at any level since the Middle Eastâ€™s first youth representative match in 2009, are also confident of registering a series win, with coach Nayef Abi Said naming a 33-man train-on squad from 16 schools in north and central Lebanon as well as Beirut.
â€œWe certainly have a promising team and players with a bright future in the game,â€ he said. â€œWe have prepared well and I’m confident that the boys will perform well in the upcoming games.”
LEBANON U18 33-MAN SQUAD
Ibrahim Ibrahim, Omar Marhaba (Amir Fakher Dine School Tripoli), Ali Kanj, Andre Khoury, Karim Tannir (Broumana High School), Ayman Sultan (Carmalyeh Mjdlaya), Raymond Sabat (Central College Jounieh), Jad Rizk (College Melkart), Adam Dahbach, Yassine Ladkani (David Karim School El Koura), Fawaz Abdo, George Farah, Fadi Ghoulem, George Meneem, Karim Mkeri, George Yazbeck (Ecoloe National Orthodox Balamand), Carl Baroud, Karim Dandan, Daniel Habbal, Mark Khauli, Michael Moualem, Kareem Saadeh, Sultan Saadeh (IC Hamra), Mohamad Zrayka (International School El Koura), Christopher Dalati (Lycee Franco Libanais Naher Ibrahim), Samer Shmaysem (Lycee Libanaise), Nour El Baba (Mina College), Hassan Aloush (Namouzja School), Maamoun Soufen (Saba Zreik), Brian Hajjar (Sabis International School), Yehya Hussein (Technical School Abi Samra), Abed El Karim About, Jamil El Rawi (Zehrieh Public School, Tripoli)
SAUDI SCHOOLS SELECT U18 19-MAN SQUAD
Hasan Zakzouk (c), Ahmed El-Obeid, Saleh Madhoun, Michael van Gruenen, Omar Kandil, Osama Abdullah, Bradley Ellis, Nawaf Alquadaibi, Kweku Ofori-Darko, Kareem Selim, Omer Rathore, Rami Howell, Abdulrahman El-Sharkwei, Ahmed El-Meligy, Muhammed Sillah, Rackan Al Moukhtar, Karim Baassiri, Amr Abotteen, Mohammed Khadra.