KUWAIT CITY, Jan 2: Oman qualified for the final of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup being held in the State of Kuwait after defeating Bahrain 1-0 in the semifinal match at Sheikh Jaber International Stadium on Tuesday evening. Oman will face the winners of the second match between UAE and Iraq who were goalless at the time of going to the press. This is the fourth time for Oman to qualify for the final. They won the Gulf cup as hosts by defeating regional football giants Saudi Arabia in a penalty shootout in 2009.
Oman defeated Bahrain through a goal scored by Mahdi Abdul-Jabbar in the 28th minute of the match with a header as he intended to clear the ball but it went past Bahraini goalkeeper Sayyed Sheyr Alawi and then into the net. In his press statement after the match, Omani head coach Pim Verbeek (Holland) expressed happiness over the performance of his team against Bahrain in the semis. He affirmed that his team played hard under tremendous pressure from their strong opponent especially in the second half of the match. Verbeek defended the average performance of his team in the second half of the match saying, “The Bahraini side depended on their attack force through long balls in a bid to equalize,” but with the final whistle blow, his team secured their place in the finals which is expected to be more challenging.
Meanwhile, Bahrain’s head coach Miroslav Soukup (Czech) affirmed that the semifinal was not easy considering what he witnessed in the match, pointing out that even the goal which was scored came through his team’s player Mahdi Abdul-Jabber.
In a press statement after the match, Soukup affirmed he respects his team and its players who were the better side of the match, especially in the second half when his players dominated the field and threatened Oman’s goal post on several occasions, but success to equalize and even to win were not on their side. Soukup expressed appreciation and gratitude to his team and Bahraini fans who traveled early morning to Kuwait to support their team. According to the match stats, the Omani side dominated most of the first half as it managed to make five attempts on goal but were cleared by Bahraini goalkeeper Alawi; whereas the Bahraini side created three serious threats on the Omani side and most of them occurred almost at the end of the first half.
In the second half, Bahrain appeared to apply more pressure on the Omani side in a bid to equalize; however, Omani goalkeeper Fayez Al- Rashidi managed to protect his net with the help of his defense which prevented Bahrain from equalizing until the end of the match. Oman booked a seat in the semifinal of Kuwait-hosted Gulf Cup Thursday after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 at the conclusion of Group A matches, while Bahrain played a 1-1 match with Qatar on Friday qualifying to semifinals of the Gulf-23 soccer competition.