Bahrain takes on Oman as Gulf Cup kicks off today

Updated 04 January 2013
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Bahrain takes on Oman as Gulf Cup kicks off today

Bahrain looks to capitalize on the home advantage tonight when they take on former champions Oman as the 21st Gulf Cup gets underway at the National Stadium in Riffa.
Today’s opener, set for 7.25 p.m. kick-off, is a key match for both teams seeking a morale victory and a flying start to this prestigious football championship.
King Hamad will patronage today’s opening ceremony, set to tip off at 6 p.m. Stadium gates will be closed at 5.30 p.m. as per the organizing plans for the fans entry.
There are eight teams taking part in the event. The teams have been divided in two groups.
Group ‘B’ includes defending champions Kuwait, three-time winners Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen.
The first day’s program sees Qatar taking on the UAE in the second match, to be held at Khalifa Spots City Stadium in Isa Town at 9.15pm.
Qatar twice, and the UAE and Oman — once each — were the other winners of the Gulf Cup, which has grown in stature since the launch of the championships in 1970.
Host country Bahrain, who have never won the title before, will face a daunting task tonight facing 2009 champions and one of the trophy contenders this year Oman.
Bahrain had finalized their preparation last night at the National Stadium under their Argentinean coach Gabriel Calderon.
The Bahrainis hope make the most of this edition held on home soil to fulfill the dream they have been cherished since the competition’s inspection in 1970 when Bahrain hosted the first tournament.
Calderon, who replaced Englishman Peter Taylor last month, will play the tournament while relying on some of the kingdom’s best football players.
Some of Calderon’s best options tonight are veteran midfielder Mohammed Salmeen and striker Ismaeel Abdullatif, both returning from recent injuries.
Other prominent members are strikers Jaycee John and Sami Al Hussaini, midfielders Faouzi Aaish, Sayed Dia and Hussain Salman, goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed Jaffer, defernder Abdulla Al Marzooqi and skipper Mohammed Hussain.
Oman, who sent a 23-player squad to Bahrain last Thursday, will also seek all three winning points from Bahrain to stay in contention for the top two spots for a berth in the semi-finals.
But Oman, under its coach Paul le Guen of France, will be missing star goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi for the second consecutive Gulf Cup. The 31-year-old goalkeeper was unable to travel to Bahrain despite the tireless efforts of the Oman Football Association officials and coach le Guen as the English Premier League side Wigan Athletic refused to release the Omani hero for the 21st edition of the championship.
Instead, the 48-year-old coach named Fayez Al Rashidi as Al Habsi’s substitute for the duration of the tournament.
Le Guen is also likely to introduce his experienced players for today’s match, including defender Hassan Mudafar, trio midfieders – Faouzi Bashir, Ahmed Mubarak and Ahmed Hadid, besides dangerous striker Amad Al Hosani.
Meanwhile, the teams’ final line-ups were submitted yesterday at the technical meeting at the Sheraton Hotel.
Chaired by tournament director Ahmed Al Nuaimi, the meeting was attended by teams managers, administrators and media co-ordinators, who were briefed on the tournament regulations.
The Doping Committee, headed by Dr. Hussain Al Haddad, had put its final arrangements to ensure smooth operation of its tests during the tournament.
A team of Doping Control Officers from the Asian Football Confederation visited the National Stadium and Khalifa Sports City Stadium to look into the procedures and steps taken by the organizers.


Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

Updated 42 min 33 sec ago
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Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts

  • The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament
  • The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal

KAZAN: Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado scored as stylish Colombia boosted their World Cup last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
In a match destined to see the loser sent home after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam Nawalka’s men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
“I’m very sorry and very sad about the result, but tomorrow’s another day and we have to come to terms with things,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.
“Our players did their best until the end of the game. We lost to a very strong team and this is something we have to accept.
“I extend my congratulations to Colombia.”
The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan earlier in the day.
Colombia’s march to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez’s six-goal tally for Los Cafeteros.
And days after a troublesome calf injury restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his best.
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia’s ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
The Juventus winger’s trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was Falcao — who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal — who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defense to win the corner that led to Colombia’s opener.
Rodriguez’s short corner eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
Colombia resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny’s crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao’s drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
Only the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding what looked like the equalizer when he rushed out to block from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
When right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced Poland’s defense apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.