Iraq to play UAE in Gulf Cup final

Updated 16 January 2013
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Iraq to play UAE in Gulf Cup final

MANAMA: Iraq will play the United Arab Emirates in the final of the Gulf Cup after two thrilling semi-finals on Tuesday.
Iraq shattered hosts Bahrain’s hopes of a maiden Gulf Cup title with a dramatic 4-2 victory in a penalty shootout after extra time ended 1-1.
And Ahmad Khalil was the Emirati hero as he scored a last-gasp goal to guide his team to a 1-0 victory over defending champions Kuwait.
The hero for Iraq was goalkeeper Noor Sabri, who not only saved two shots in the penalty shootout but also converted the winning spot kick to trigger wild celebrations among a large expatriate Iraqi crowd at the National Stadium in Riffa.
In the penalty shootout, Sabri saved penalties from Bahrain captain Mohammed Hussain and Abdulwahab Al-Malood while Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer fended off Iraq’s first penalty taken by Ahmed Yasin.
Dhirgham Ismail, Waleem Salem and Younes Khalaf were on target with the other penalties for Iraq while Faozi Ayish and Sayed Dhiya scored for Bahrain.
Earlier, captain and lone striker Khalaf scored what looked like a Iraqi match-winner in the 18th minute, latching on to a through pass from Hammadi Ahmed in the penalty area and successfully shaking off his marker Abdulla Al-Marzooqi and beating goalkeeper Jaffer with a low shot which went in off the far post.
Veteran defender Hussain Ali Baba produced the Bahrain equalizer in the 61st minute. His free kick from about 20 meters away from the penalty area shot off like a guided missile over the Iraqi wall and curled into the left top corner of the goal, eluding a diving Sabri.
It was undefeated Iraq’s first goal conceded in this championship.
If that was not enough drama, the all-important goal that saw the UAE through to Friday’s final came seconds into the final minute of regular time when the never-say-die Omar Abdulrahman initiated a move inches outside the penalty area on the left and sent Abdulaziz Sanqor through with a well-timed diagonal pass.
Sanqor did well to beat his marker Mohammed Frieh and send a cross past the face of the goal to Khalil, who jabbed the ball low and to the right of Kuwait goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Khaldi.
It was Khalil’s third goal of the championships and the UAE stands, packed with fans especially flown in by 21 chartered planes, went wild.
The first semi-final was a match of two equal halves with the UAE dominating the first and 11-time champions Kuwait the second.
Both teams came close to scoring, with the UAE’s best chance coming in the 60th minute when a long-range free-kick by Khamis Ismael struck the crossbar and bounced back twice off the shoulder of Kuwait goalkeeper Khaldi.
Nine minutes later it was a close shave for Khaldi’s Emirati counterpart Ali Khaseif as Fahad Al-Ansari, Bader Al-Mutwa and Hussain Hakem all had their close shots saved, the Emirati defense just managing to scramble the ball clear.
Kuwait had another chance in the 86th minute when second-half substitute Fahad Al-Enezi covered the length of the ground but could not shake off his markers and his move went abegging.
But the UAE and Khalil’s patience and perseverance paid off in the final minute, however, a just reward for a team mainly made up of players who took part in the 2012 London Games.


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 22 May 2018
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs
  • Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million)

RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.