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.


Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

Updated 21 April 2018
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Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal

  • The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
  • After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.

Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.