Saudi Arabia ready for Gulf Cup
Saudi Arabia ready for Gulf Cup
The three countries had refused to confirm their participation in the tournament because it was due to be staged in Qatar, and Gulf Cup Football Federation Jassim Al-Rumaihi had said the competition was, as a result, “unlikely to take place.” But the late switching of the tournament to Kuwait, following the lifting of a suspension by FIFA, has prompted a rethink.
An official announcement by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) on Saturday confirmed their participation in the 23rd edition of the tournament, following statements by Bahrain and the UAE, but spokesman Mohamed Al-Shaikh told Arab News that it is still unclear whether a full-strength KSA team will be sent to Kuwait.
The SAFF will meet with national team boss Juan Antonio Pizzi in Riyadh today to decide the best course of action, according to Al-Shaikh. The Argentinian coach was appointed by the SAFF last month and the Gulf Cup will be his first assignment as he attempts to build and shape a team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
As Saudi Arabia had no plans of participating in the Gulf Cup, there is no break scheduled in the Saudi Pro League fixtures list, but the competitions department at the SAFF is now set to postpone gameweeks 15 and 16, which were scheduled to take place between Dec. 21 and 29, to allow international players to join Pizzi’s squad in Kuwait.
Despite not being recognized as an official regional tournament under FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation, the Gulf Cup has taken place on a biennial basis since 1970 with few interruptions, and is held in high regard by the local fans.
The competition has traditionally featured seven countries, the six Gulf Cooperation Council members alongside Iraq. In 2003, Yemen was admitted to the tournament and its format was changed to two groups of four, the top two of each group advance to the knock-out style semifinal.
Kuwait holds the record for most titles in the Gulf Cup with ten triumphs, while Saudi Arabia has won the competition three times, starting with the 1994 edition in the UAE, before lifting back-to-back trophies in 2002 on home soil and in 2003 in Kuwait.
Mohamed Salah named Premier League’s best player of the year at PFA awards
- Egyptian superstar currently has 30 Premier League goals this season
- Salah beat the likes of De Bruyne and Kane to the award
LONDON: Mohamed Salah was crowned the Premier League’s Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday, with his incredible 41-goal debut season at Liverpool beating out strong competition from Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne.
“It’s a big honor. I’ve worked hard and I’m very happy to win it,” Salah said at the ceremony on Sunday evening.
Salah matched a Premier League record tally for a single season by scoring his 31st league goal of the campaign in a 2-2 draw at West Brom on Saturday.
“You’re comparing your name with some great names,” he said, on the prospect of breaking the record. “To break the Premier League record is something huge in England and all over in the world.
“There are still three games to go. I want to break this record.”
Salah has also netted seven times in eight Champions League games, including in both legs of Liverpool’s 5-1 quarter-final thrashing of City, to carry his side to a first semifinal for a decade.
De Bruyne showed why he had been many people’s early-season favorite for the prize with an incredible long-range strike for his 12th goal of the season to go with a league-high number of assists as champions City thrashed Swansea 5-0 on Sunday.
“From my point of view when you are analizing 10 months, there is no player better than him,” said City manager Pep Guardiola of the Belgian midfielder.
“Maybe there are numbers better but for me he was the best. But it is my opinion, the opinions of the players could be different. But in the end, in summer time he will be at home being champion.”
City did pick up a prize from the PFA gala in central London on Sunday, though, as Leroy Sane won the Young Player of the Year.
Sane, another City team-mate David Silva, De Bruyne, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Tottenham striker Harry Kane were the other five nominees for the main prize.