Iraq to play UAE in Gulf Cup final

Updated 16 January 2013
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Iraq to play UAE in Gulf Cup final

MANAMA: Iraq will play the United Arab Emirates in the final of the Gulf Cup after two thrilling semifinals on Tuesday night.
Iraq shattered hosts Bahrain’s hopes of a maiden Gulf Cup title with a dramatic 4-2 victory in a penalty shootout after extra time ended 1-1.
And Ahmad Khalil was the Emirati hero as he scored a last-gasp goal to guide his team to a 1-0 victory over defending champions Kuwait.
The hero for Iraq was goalkeeper Noor Sabri, who not only saved two shots in the penalty shootout but also converted the winning spot kick to trigger wild celebrations among a large expatriate Iraqi crowd at the National Stadium in Riffa.
In the penalty shootout, Sabri saved penalties from Bahrain captain Mohammed Hussain and Abdulwahab Al-Malood while Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer fended off Iraq’s first penalty taken by Ahmed Yasin.
Dhirgham Ismail, Waleem Salem and Younes Khalaf were on target with the other penalties for Iraq while Faozi Ayish and Sayed Dhiya scored for Bahrain.
Earlier, captain and lone striker Khalaf scored what looked like a Iraqi match-winner in the 18th minute, latching on to a through pass from Hammadi Ahmed in the penalty area and successfully shaking off his marker Abdulla Al-Marzooqi and beating goalkeeper Jaffer with a low shot which went in off the far post.
Veteran defender Hussain Ali Baba produced the Bahrain equalizer in the 61st minute. His free kick from about 20 meters away from the penalty area shot off like a guided missile over the Iraqi wall and curled into the left top corner of the goal, eluding a diving Sabri.
It was undefeated Iraq’s first goal conceded in this championship.


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

Updated 20 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 #Wenger Out 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.