Doubts over Gulf Cup as draw takes place

Updated 25 September 2017
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Doubts over Gulf Cup as draw takes place

DOHA: The draw for the Gulf Cup of Nations went ahead Monday despite serious doubts that the Qatar-hosted competition will take place largely due to ongoing regional political tensions.
In bizarre circumstances an elaborate ceremony saw Qatar drawn with Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen in Group A, while Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE and possibly Kuwait will make up Group B.
However, as many as half of the teams may not play in the eight-nation tournament, scheduled to take place in Doha Dec. 22 to Jan. 5.
Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain could boycott the event because of its increasingly bitter political standoff with Qatar, now in its fourth month.
Notably, no representatives of the three associations were in Doha for the draw.
And even though the cup is not a FIFA event, Kuwait’s football association remains suspended by the world’s governing body and it is not clear if its team can take part in the tournament.
Asked if the tournament would take place, Jassim Al-Rumaihi, general secretary of the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federations (AGCFF) said: “We will see what happens.
“Qatar is ready to organize and host this tournament,” he told reporters after the draw.
“It will be clearer in the coming hours and the coming days.”
He added: “In the current situation, I hope we don’t mix sport and politics.”
Rumaihi said that if Saudi, UAE and Bahrain pulled out, the remaining teams would play a round robin tournament.
However, if there are only four teams available to play, a fresh decision would be taken by the AGCFF whether to stage the tournament.
If some countries boycott the event, they could face fines and may also be ordered to compensate broadcasters, said Hamid Alshaibani, chairman of the competitions committee.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE have isolated Qatar, cutting all ties with Doha since June 5, accusing the emirate of supporting extremism and fostering ties with Iran.
World Cup 2022 host Qatar denies the charges, claiming the dispute is an attack on its sovereignty.
Regardless, the dispute has now lasted more than 100 days and shows few signs of ending soon.
This latest edition of the Gulf Cup of Nations, which is held every two years, has already run into problems.
It was meant to be played in Kuwait in 2016 but due to the country’s FIFA ban the tournament was moved to Qatar and scheduled to be played a year late.
Qatar are the current holders of the trophy, having beaten Saudi Arabia 2-1 in the 2014 final.


Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

Updated 21 June 2018
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Australia get crucial 1-1 draw with Denmark at World Cup

  • 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was penalized for a handball
  • Going into the tournament, world No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12

SAMARA, Russia: Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick gave Australia a 1-1 draw against Denmark and new life at the World Cup on Thursday.
The 38th-minute penalty was set up after Denmark forward Yussuf Poulsen was penalized for a handball following a video review.
Poulsen was also given a yellow card and will be suspended for the team’s final group match against France because of accumulation.
The goal was Jedinak’s second from the spot at this year’s World Cup, and it stopped Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel’s five-match streak of clean sheets for the Danes.
Christian Eriksen scored in the opening minutes for Denmark, which have gone unbeaten in 17 straight international matches.
Going into the tournament, world No. 36 Australia were the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12.
With a loss to France in the opener, a defeat on Thursday would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance to the next stage. Denmark, meanwhile, won their first match against Peru.
Australia lost to 1998 World Cup champions France 2-1 on Saturday in Kazan, with both French goals coming as the result of video technology. But the score did not reflect the Socceroos’ gritty defensive performance.
Australia again took a defensive stand against Denmark, which were back at the World Cup after missing out on the tournament in Brazil.
The Danes were coming off a 1-0 victory over Peru on Saturday in Saransk.
Poulsen, who plays for German club RB Leipzig, scored the lone goal.
It is the fifth World Cup appearance for the Danes, who reached the quarterfinals in 1998.
Australia were also making a fifth trip to the World Cup. The team’s best showing was in the 2006 quarterfinals.
Moments after Mathew Leckie’s header for Australia sailed over the goal, Eriksen sent a left-footed shot over goalkeeper Mathew Ryan’s outstretched arms.
Pione Sisto nearly gave the Danes the advantage just after the halftime break, but his shot went to the right of the goal. Australia added some firepower in the 68th, bringing on 19-year-old Daniel Arzani as both teams scrambled for a winning goal.
Australia lost Andrew Nabbout in the 74th minute with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder. He was replaced by Tomi Juric.
Denmark’s opening victory over Peru was marred by the loss of starting midfielder William Kvist, who fractured two ribs and is likely to miss the rest of the tournament. He was replaced in the starting lineup against Australia by Lasse Schone.
Denmark’s last loss was in October 2016 against Montenegro, 1-0 in Copenhagen.

GROUP DYNAMICS
The highlight of Group C will be the match between France and Denmark on Tuesday in Moscow. The top finishers in the group will go on to play opponents from Group D, which includes Croatia, Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.

KEYS TO SUCCESS
Eriksen, who plays for Tottenham in England, has scored in 17 of the national team’s last 20 matches.
During World Cup qualifying, he scored 11 goals for the Danes, third-best in Europe behind Poland striker Robert Lewandowski with 16 and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo with 15.
Now 26, Eriksen was the youngest player at the World Cup in South Africa. He has 79 appearances for the national team and 23 goals.
He was named man of the match on Thursday.