21st February 2012

The first Under-18s rugby league international in the Middle East and North Africa region will take place on Friday when Lebanon host the Saudi Select in Beirut. Lebanon coach, Robin Hacahache, is eagerly anticipating the clash. “The boys are anxiously looking forward to Friday’s game, we will be fielding an experienced and skilful Under-18s side,” he said.  “Most of the players have come through from the last year's Under-16s squad.”

The same progression is true of the visiting KSA squad with skipper Hasan Zakzouk noting, “We have been working hard in preparation and feel this is strongest team [at any age group] we have taken to Beirut.” The Camels coaching staff of David Kinkead, Wayne Stewart and Chris Stander are also confident of success. “In the team’s two warm-up matches we have seen them go from strength to strength and in the last match play some fast, free-flowing rugby league,” Head Coach Kinkead added.

The Saudi travelling contingent contains five uncapped players in a squad selected from over 50 who attended trials in Jeddah. The most experienced, Farid Abdulwahab, spent two weeks in the summer training with the Warrington Wolves Academy.

Remond Safi, the MENA Regional Director, is delighted with the progress being made in the region.  “We are seeing the organic growth of the sport,’” he commented. “The Lebanese now have U14s, U16s, U18s, U20s and open age national sides. We have seen the KSA going from U14s and U16s to expanding their growth to U18s and hopefully they will have U20s next year. I anticipate seeing the other MENA Nations involved in the U18s ranks next year.”

Pictured: members of the Saudi U18 show off the 2010 MENA U14, 2010 MENA U16 and 2011 MENA U16 trophies (Farid Abdulwahab, second from right).

Abdulraouf Abbas, Ahmed El Obeid, Farid Abdulwahab, Hasan Zakzouk (c), Hisham Nassar, Liam McRaith, Mazin Ghobara, Mohammed Mannaa, Nawaf Al Qudaibi, Omer Rathore, Osama Abdullah, Saeed Anam, Salman Abualnasr, Samer Balaa, Usman Naveed, Yousef Safadi, Zander Potgeiter.

LEBANON U18 (train-on squad)
Brian Hajjar (Sabis); Aref Barakeh (Universal School of Lebanon Koura); Zaher Khatib (ACTEL); Karim Mekasy, Khaled Mekari, Peter Fahed, George Yazbeck, Fadi Ghoulan, Rouh Nasr, George Farah, Thomas Zachariou (Balamand High); Maxime Chalhoub, Ali Kanj, Sadecc Choucaire (Broumina High School); George Meneem (Chekka High School); Jad Rizk (College Melkart); Mohammad Dahbache, Adam Dahbache (David Karam Educational Centre of Lebanon); Yehya El Hssien (Ecole Technique De Abi Samra); Ayman Akl, Liam Laba Chedrawi, Carl Barroud & Ralph Takchi (International School Hamra); Jihad Hamwi (Iman Pilot School), Nabil Moussawel, Charbel Chidiac, Pierre Mallouhi, Elio Mallouhi (International School El Koura), Cyril Irani, Anthony Attieh (College Notre Dame De Jamhour), Jad Rizk (Lycee Franco Libanais), Cyril Abi Aad, Ramzi Sfeir (Saint Joseph), Hassan Allouch, Samer Shymasem, Nour El Baba, Tarek Merehby, Omar Allat (Namouzaj School Tripoli), Zakaria Ammar, Khaled El Masri, Mahomad Hassan, Omar Marhaba, (Amer Fahkr El Dine), Jamil el Rawi, Bassel Tlaji, Mohammed Talji, Abdel Karim About, (Ziehrieh High School).



Rugby League