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Oman win Gulf Cup for second time – Al-Rashidi breaks UAE hearts with 2 saves

Oman’s players celebrate after winning the Gulf Cup of Nations 2017 final football match between Oman and the UAE at the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Stadium in Kuwait City on Jan 5. (AFP)

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 6, (Agencies): Oman beat UAE 5-4 in a dramatic penalty- shootout to take home the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup on Friday after finishing a goalless draw in the regulation time and the extra time of the final match played at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, Kuwait.

UAE best player Omar Abdulrahman (Amouri) wasted two opportunities that could have earned his team the title when he lost a penalty kick during the regulation time and the last leg of the penalty shootout while both teams were tied 4-4.

Omani goalkeeper Faisal Al-Rashidi who denied Abdulrahman the opportunity of winning the tournament for UAE before full time had made another fantastic save that earned his team the trophy for the second time. Oman took the trophy for the first time when they hosted the 19th edition of the Gulf championship in 2009. Apparently, the loss Oman suffered in the hands of the Emirates at the group stage when Ali Mabkhout scored a penalty and gave 1-0 victory to their opponents happened to be the real energizer that spurred the team during the final game.

UAE had ridden on the back of Oman to take home the 18th Arabian Gulf Cup — another factor that may have prepared Oman for this victory. The team dominated the field of play in first half of the match with higher ball possession, and created scoring chances.

The first and most dangerous opportunity came in the 19th minute when Ahmad Khalil’s power shot in the penalty box deflected to the left side of the goalpost. Mabkhout mounted further pressure on Oman with another powerful shot from outside the box but Oman started coming out of their shell in the 37th minute when Khalid Al-Hajeri tested the UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa and the ball went to the far right of the post. The best chance Oman had at a close range in the first half was wasted toward the last minute.

The second half was more interesting with scintillating performance from the right winger Saad Suhail, although he missed the target at the 50th minute. Amouri responded with a header that went off the Omani post shortly thereafter, and Jamil Al-Yahmadi nearly gave Oman a winner in the 61st minute when he connected a pass from Ali Al-Busaed, but it was far from hitting the net.

Muhannad Al-Anzi also cleared another dangerous ball from Suhail to the corner at the 74th minute. The extra time ended without a goal from both sides. Kuwaiti referee Ali Mahmoud Sha’aban awarded a penalty kick in favor of UAE a minute before the final whistle but Al-Rashidi denied Amouri the opportunity to lift the trophy.

The event was held under the auspices of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and in the presence of representative of His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al- Hamad Al-Sabah. The ceremony also featured Speaker of Kuwait’s National Assembly Marzouq Al-Ghanim, President of West Asian Football Federation Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, Chairman of Oman’s Shura Council Khalid bin Hilal Al- Mawali, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al- Jarrah Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh, Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, some Sheikhs, ministers, governors and State’s senior officials as well as senior commanders of police, army and national guards, foreign and Arab diplomats, some heads of delegations and sports federations took part at the tourney.

Following the final game, His Highness the Prime Minister delivered the championship’s cup and golden medals to Oman’s team, which won the final after beating the UAE’s team, which were granted the silver medals. In a press statement, His Highness the Prime Minister expressed his sincere congratulations to Oman on winning the title of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup hosted by Kuwait. He stressed that Oman’s win is considered a culmination of all teams, which took part at the event during an honorable competition which deepened strong historical bonds among brothers.

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