Oman shock Saudi Arabia in Gulf Cup clash

Oman's team celebrate after scoring a goal during the 2017 Gulf Cup of Nations football match between Saudi and Oman at the Kuwait Stadium in Kuwait City on December 28, 2017. / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Updated 29 December 2017

Oman shock Saudi Arabia in Gulf Cup clash

KUWAIT CITY: Saudi Arabia missed out on a Gulf Cup semi-final place after a 2-0 defeat to Oman in Kuwait on Thursday. 

Although the Saudis started well, Oman soon came back into the match with promising bursts on the break. Their first chance came when the ball came in from the left and was met by Abdul Aziz Al-Muqbali, but he failed to make a proper connection.

That bright start soon started to fade as Saudi Arabia came back into the match and started to force the Omanis deep into their own half. Despite their dominance and superior possession, Saudi Arabia’s players failed to find a breakthrough in the first half.

They were left to rue that lack of creativity as Oman came out after the half-time break much the better side and in the 58th minute took a surprise lead. Said Salim, a second-half substitute for Al-Muqbali, put away a rebound after Assaf Al-Qarni had saved the initial shot.

The shock of going behind seemed to shake the Saudi Arabian players into action as with less than half-an-hour to go, they started to put pressure on the Omani defense. As they searched for the equalizer, however, Oman remained dangerous on the break.

As desperation grew among the Saudi Arabian ranks, they continued pressing forward and thought they had found the equalizer in the 75th minute, only for the assistant referee to rule it out for offside.

It got worse for Saudi Arabia soon after, Oman added a second to take the game beyond their reach. Al-Mushaifri’s cross was met and buried by Khalid Khalifa Al-Hajri.

In spite of sustained pressure, another disallowed goal and two late penalty shouts Saudi were unable to find a goal.

Oman are joined in the semi-finals by UAE, who were held to a goalless draw by hosts Kuwait in Thursday’s other match. Iraq, Bahrain and Qatar will fight it out on Friday for the remaining two semi-final spots.

‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

Updated 15 December 2018

‘Not impossible’ that Formula E will overtake F1, says Felipe Massa ahead of Ad Diriyah race

LONDON: Felipe Massa has acknowledged the possibility of Formula E becoming more popular than its more illustrious rival Formula One, ahead of his debut at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia today.
The Brazilian ace swapped the roaring engines of F1 for the blistering battery power of Formula E this season, and told Arab News that the idea was not “impossible.”
“On overtaking, Formula 1, that’s a difficult question to answer. But what can I say, is that it’s not impossible. We just need to wait and see how things go, (whether) it is ‘when’ or ‘if,’ but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said.
“Formula E and electric cars are becoming ever-more present, but it will definitely be the future, even in the short-term future.
“It (the technology) has already arrived in some countries and will in other countries, too, it is the future. I think Formula E has used that mentality, even five years ago to build this (motorsport) category,” he added.
Massa, who raced for 15 seasons in Formula One and won 11 grands prix, was also positive about the potential of Formula E as it continues to expand after its inception in 2011 and inaugural season in 2014.
“It will take a little bit of time, it’s not easy to get things perfect straight away, but look at the past two years and how much the championship is growing.
“When I say growing, it’s not just with the quality of the drivers, but also with manufacturers’ teams and companies, who are really getting behind the sport.
“Look how many companies they are signing on as sponsors, on many different levels, even companies that sell fuel,” he said.
“We are even racing (this weekend) in a country known as an oil country. So, I think this shows how much this championship is growing.”
Massa also agreed with comments made by F1 director Ross Brawn, who recently said that the highest level of motorsport had become too predictable.
“Only certain racers can win in Formula One, but Formula E is unpredictable and a good example (of that) is that the winners in all past seasons have been different drivers,” he told Arab News.
The affable driver said he is relishing the new challenge that Formula E will pose to his skills and abilities, adding that with the exception of certain parts of the Monaco and Mexico circuits, each track will be new to him.
“I like a challenge, there is a lot to learn and a lot to test myself with and learning the car, working with the team,” he said.
“Even though I’m experienced in motorsport, with my 16 years in Formula One, this is a new test and I will have to start from zero.”
Meanwhile, defending Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne said hearing the words “world champion” after his name was “still cool.”
When asked about the challenge from teammate Andre Lotterer on the other side of the Techeetah garage, the Frenchman was full of praise for the German driver.
“He is absolutely one of the most talented drivers, and I expect him to be on the same level as I am and, for sure, it’s going to be a nice competition between us.
“It will be good for the team, as that will push everybody, and that is what we want as a team.”
The former F1 driver was complimentary about Formula E’s new “attack mode,” but voiced concerns about the danger the system posed to drivers on corners on the challenging Ad Diriyah circuit this weekend.