By Ali Masoud, Arab News Staff
Tuesday 31 December 2002
Last Update 31 December 2002 12:00 am
JEDDAH, 31 December 2002 — Mohammed Noor’s golden goal helped Saudi Arabia win the Prince Faisal ibn Fahd Soccer Tournament for the Arab Cup beating Bahrain yesterday in Kuwait.
Noor’s headed goal in the 94th minute from a cross from Abdul Aziz Al-Janoubi beat the Bahraini goalkeeper Ali Hassan, sending the Saudi team and the fans into raptures.
The Kingdom had won the title in 1998 defeating Qatar 3-1. Jordan were given an award for Fair Play, while Morocco were awarded the Sportsman Spirit Cup.
The Saudi team, which came into its own in the second half, and mounted tremendous pressure on Bahrain’s goal but had to wait until the extra time for the winner.
This is the second time unlucky for Bahrain, who were beaten in the final of the Arab Cup by Iraq 1-0 in Taif in 1985. There was however some consolation for Bahrain when Ahmad Hassan Taleb was adjudged the best striker of the tournament along with Syrian Raja Rafie.
Bahrain had the early share of the exchanges and forced three corners in quick succession. But the Saudi defense beat off the threat on all occasions. The Saudis however found their feet late in the first half and took control of the midfield. But their repeated attacks were blunted by a stout-hearted Bahrain defense. Talal Al-Mishaal and Yasser Al-Qahtani were diligently marked by Ahmad Hassan Taleb and Hussein Ali, with Ali foiling another joint move by Mishaal and Kariri in the 26th minute.
Another strike at 52nd minute by Janoubi went over the Bahraini goalpost while a free kick by Abdullah Al-Wakid from 25 meters of the post at the 67th minute sailed over. The Algerian referee Mohamed Zekrini denied a penalty kick to the Saudis when Mohammed Noor was fouled in the penalty area just a minute from time.
With the teams deadlocked goalless in regulation time, the teams crossed over for the extra time sessions. And Noor struck. He beat Bahrain’s Suleiman Isa and Faisal Abdul Hameed to the crisp floater from Al-Janoubi and headed it to the left corner of the Bahraini goal.