Oman reach Gulf Cup final with win over Bahrain

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Oman's players hold a picture of Oman's Sultan as they celebrate with their fans after winning the semi-final match against Bahrain. (AFP)
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Oman's Ahmed Mubarak Obaid al-Mahaijri holds his national flag as he celebrates winning the semi-final. (AFP)
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Oman's Ahmed Mubarak Al Mahaijri fights for the ball against Bahrain's Sayed Baqer. (AFP)
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Oman's players celebrate after winning the 2017 Gulf Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Oman and Bahrain at the Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad Stadium. (AFP)
Updated 02 January 2018
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Oman reach Gulf Cup final with win over Bahrain

DUBAI: Oman reached the final of the Gulf Cup for the fourth time in their history with a 1-0 win over Bahrain in the first semi-final in Kuwait’s Jaber International Stadium.
Pim Verbeek’s side needed a slice of luck to make it through — the only goal of the game was an own goal after 29 minutes from Mahdi Abdul Jabber — and they defended for their lives at times, but they held on after keeping a third clean sheet in four matches and will now contest Friday’s final in Kuwait City. They won the tournament for the first and only time in 2009 and this group of players now has a chance to emulate the golden generation of Ali Al-Habsi and Co. 
Oman’s Ministry of Sports Affairs teamed up with the Majlis Al Shura and Oman’s air force to provide eight free flights so fans could watch the team in action and they were dancing in the stands at the final whistle, as the players celebrated with a picture of the Sultan of Oman.
Verbeek’s side dominated possession throughout the first half of the semi-final and came close to opening the scoring on multiple occasions. First, it was Mohsen Johar who fired just wide of the post with his left foot from the edge of the area.
Veteran Ahmed Mubarak was present in each of Oman’s past three appearances at the Gulf Cup final, lifting the trophy in 2009. Captaining the side this time around, he attempted to break the deadlock when he drilled his angled free-kick low and past the wall, but goalkeeper Sayed Alawi came to the rescue.
Finally, Bahrain buckled under the pressure, and it was their own man Mahdi Abdul Jabber who beat Alawi. Bahrain’s No. 9 attempted to clear Johar’s in-swinging corner kick at the near post, but his header went straight past his own goalkeeper to put Oman in the lead.
Former Australia manager Verbeek has built a solid defensive unit in Oman, and once they took the lead, his men retreated to defend their area and did so to perfection.
Bahrain took the initiative after the goal, but were unable to create any clear-cut chances in the remainder of the first half. Their best effort was a long-range shot from Dhia Saeed that sailed high above the Omani goal.
Midfielder Jamal Rashid had scored two of Bahrain’s three goals in the tournament prior to the Oman encounter, but an injury prevented him from featuring in the semifinal. In his absence, coach Miroslav Soukup played all his attacking cards after the restart as Bahrain desperately attempted to come back into the game.
Midfielder Ibrahim Habib was brought on at half-time to replace defender Ahmed Abdullah and his impact on the game was noticed instantly. Habib ran riot in the Omani defense and came within a whisker of scoring on two occasions. Goalkeeper Fayez Al Rashidi put in a man-of-the-match display as he saved wave after wave of Bahraini attack, his personal highlight a lightning quick reflex save to deny Habib’s header from six yards out. The great Al-Habsi, who was in goal the last time Oman won it, would have been proud.
Oman: Fayez Al-Rashidi, Saad Suhail, Fahmy Saeed, Mohamed Al-Musallami, Ali Al-Busaidi, Ahmed Mubarak, Hareb Al-Saadi, Jameel Al-Yahmadi, Raed Ibrahim, Mohsen Johar, Khaled Al-Hajjeri
Bahrain: Sayed Alawi, Waleed Al-Hayam, Sayed Mahdi Baqer, Ahmed Abdullah, Sayed Reda Eisa, Abdulwahab Ali, Kameel Al-Aswad, Dhia Saeed, Abdulla Abdu, Ali Madan, Mahdi Abdul Jabbar
Referee: Hettikamkanamge Perera (Sri Lanka)


Al-Hilal overcome Omar Abdulrahman injury blow to keep pace with Al-Nassr

Updated 21 October 2018
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Al-Hilal overcome Omar Abdulrahman injury blow to keep pace with Al-Nassr

  • Abdulrahman, who joined the Riyadh giants in August on a one-year loan deal, was carried off in some distress after 12 minutes
  • Al-Hilal maintained their perfect start to the Saudi Pro League season with a 1-0 win at Al-Shabab

JEDDAH: Despite a worrying injury to star player Omar Abdulrahman, Al-Hilal maintained their perfect start to the Saudi Pro League season with a 1-0 win at Al-Shabab at the weekend to keep the pressure on early leaders Al-Nassr.
Abdulrahman, who joined the Riyadh giants in August on a one-year loan deal, was carried off in some distress after 12 minutes at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. The UAE international looked to be in considerable pain after stretching to reach the ball in the Al-Shabab area.
“‘Amoory’ will have to undergo tests to see how serious the injury is,” an Al-Hilal official told Arab News, adding that the player’s national team have expressed concern with the 2019 Asian Cup kicking off in early January. “We have already talked to the UAE team staff but we will have to wait and see.”
Despite the early setback, the defending champions dug in and took the three points thanks to a second-half strike from Mohammed Kanoo, who dedicated the victory to their injured team-mate. “We won the game for ‘Amoory’,” Kanoo said after the game. “We hope that this win helps him to achieve a complete and speedy recovery.”
The victory gave Al-Hilal five wins from five games this season to move three points behind Al-Nassr, who have managed six from six. “It was a tough game but an important win for us,” Kanoo added. “We need to keep going and keep collecting points.”
The injury to their key playmaker adds to other injury worries for coach Jorge Jesus. The team has already been without Saudi Arabia international Nawaf Al-Abed and star striker Bafetimbi Gomis, who headed to Turkey on Sunday morning to check the condition of a groin injury picked up ahead of the recent Saudi-Egypt Super Cup final against Zamalek.
Al-Shabab, reduced to ten men on the hour with the dismissal of Brazilian defender Euller, were left to rue missed chances against the defending champions.
“We defended well today and also played well on the counter-attack,” said Al-Shabab goalkeeper Fabrouk Ben Mustapha. “It was a good performance. We had the opportunities but were just not able to take them.”
The win keeps the pressure on leaders Al-Nassr, who claimed a 2-0 victory at Al-Batin on Friday. An early own goal from Lucas set the visitors on their way and the three points were sealed with a second-half strike from Abderrazak Hamdallah.
It was an even more impressive victory given that Al-Nassr were without influential winger Ahmed Musa. The Nigerian international, who joined in the summer from Leicester City and has been one of the best performers of the season so far, was given leave to travel home to visit his sick mother.
Coach Jose Daniel Carreno paid tribute to his players. “There are no easy games in this league,” the Uruguayan said. “We had to show our determination and stay cohesive and organized to take the win.”
The former Al-Shabab boss is not getting carried away by his team’s impressive start. “We are going well at the moment and it is great to be picking up points like this. There is still a long way to go and there are a number of strong teams in the league.”
Both Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr were given a boost as title rivals Al-Ahli suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday, a shock 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Al-Ittifaq, who climbed up to fifth in the table.
That loss saw the Jeddah club drop down to third with 13 points, two behind Al-Hilal and five behind the leaders. Elsewhere in the league, Al-Ittihad stayed bottom of the league with a 1-1 draw at home to Ohod in the first game under new coach Slaven Bilic. The Tigers are next in action on Thursday with a trip to rivals Al-Hilal.