UAE first to guarantee place in Gulf Cup semis
MANAMA (dpa) – The United Arab Emirates became the first team to qualify for the semifinals of the Gulf Cup of Nations on Tuesday after defeating Bahrain 2-1 in Manama.
The hosts, which have just one point from two games, have only a slim chance of making it to the next round.
Ali Mabkhout put the UAE in front in the first half, and Bahrain’s Abdul Wahab al-Malod clinched the equaliser in the 75th minute. But five minutes from time, Majid Hassan scored the winning goal for the UAE.
Qatar, which lost to UAE on Saturday, kept their chances alive after a 2-1 victory over Oman earlier in the day at Bahrain’s National Stadium.
Qatari Ibrahim Khalfan scored the first goal from a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, but in the 71st minutes Oman’s Hussain al-Hadri equalised from another penalty. Two minutes before time, Mohammad Al Sayed scored Qatar’s winning goal from inside the penalty area.
“I congratulate the players of the two teams on the outstanding performance and the fiery spirit that was present,” Qatar’s coach, Brazilian Paolo Attori, said after the match.
“(Qatar’s) players had a strong reaction to their loss in the first match, which asserts their strength.”
Oman now have one point after a goalless draw against Bahrain on Saturday. The team will play its last game of the first round on Friday against the UAE.
There are a total of eight teams split into two groups competing in the 21st edition of the Gulf Cup of Nations, which was launched in 1970. Though it is not officially recognised by the ruling football body FIFA, the tournament has risen in stature to become the oil-rich region’s key competition.
On Wednesday, title holders Kuwait play Iraq, followed by a match between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The 2013 tournament had been scheduled to be held in Iraq but was moved to Manama due to security concerns.
Tight security has been put in place in Bahrain, where anti-government protests have often turned violent in recent years.