Iraq and Oman edge past Qatar and Bahrain to claim places in Arabian Gulf Cup final

Iraq and Oman edge past Qatar and Bahrain to claim places in Arabian Gulf Cup final
Iraq's Ali Faez celebrates after the match. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 20 January 2023

Iraq and Oman edge past Qatar and Bahrain to claim places in Arabian Gulf Cup final

Iraq and Oman edge past Qatar and Bahrain to claim places in Arabian Gulf Cup final
  • Hosts Iraq will take to the field in Basra on Thursday knowing they have a chance to claim their first international silverware since lifting the Asian Cup in 2007
  • However, they face a tough test in the form of two-time Gulf Cup champions Oman, who last won the tournament in 2018 and have their eyes on title number three

BASRA: Hosts Iraq will meet Oman in the final of the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup in Basra on Thursday, after both teams recorded narrow victories in Monday’s semi-finals.

Iraq, who last appeared in the final of the biennial tournament in 2013 and last lifted the trophy in 1988, thrilled more than 60,000 fans at Basra International Stadium with a hard-fought 2-1 win over the 2022 World Cup hosts, Qatar.

Ibrahim Bayesh has been one of the standouts of the tournament, and the 22-year-old Iraqi midfielder was the one to open the scoring after 19 minutes when he swept home the rebound from close range after goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham could only parry a header from a free-kick.

Nine minutes later, however, Qatar were back on level terms. Iraqi goalkeeper Jalan Hassan tried to punch clear a back-heel that had gone wrong but the ball fell to Amro Surag to volley home through a crowd of players.

Iraq regained the lead just before the break. Qatar gave the ball away and Aymen Hussein’s shot from the edge of the area took a deflection and looped over Barsham into the net.

Both teams had chances in the second half and Barsham made more than one fine save to keep Qatar’s hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Iraqi defense managed to repel some fierce attacks. They ultimately managed to hold on, prompting wild celebrations on the terraces when the final whistle sounded, and a message of congratulations from Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani.

The victory gives the Lions of Mesopotamia the chance to claim their first international silverware since lifting the Asian Cup in 2007.

“Now we can think about winning the title and the players are itching for it,” Iraq’s coach, Jesus Casas, said after the game.

“I am happy with my team as all players worked toward the win. Our defense was very good against Qatar. Our aim was to close spaces in the final third and not allow Qatar to make passes. It is impossible to avoid mistakes in football and we made one that cost us a goal … but we kept going.”

For Qatar, it was a disappointing end to a tournament that did at least signal the start of a rebuilding process after the disaster of the World Cup, when the hosts lost all three games.

“I am proud of what the team has achieved here without much experience, and the players should also be proud of themselves for their performance,” said temporary coach Bruno Pinheiro.

“But we didn’t play as a team today and gave spaces to Iraq, letting them score. Iraq also had an extra day for rest, which went in their favor. I wish luck to Iraq in the final and I want to thank the Iraqi fans for supporting us in the tournament.”

While all the goals in the first semi-final of the day came in the first half, in the second, fans of Oman and Bahrain had to wait until seven minutes from the end before the deadlock was broken in the clash between the winners of the two most recent tournaments.

Both teams had chances to win it but the deciding goal, when it finally came, was a spectacular one. Jameel Al-Yahmadi fired home a rocket from outside the area to leave Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer with no chance. The only goal of the game, it was worthy of winning any game.

Now the two-time champions, who last won the tournament in 2018, are 90 minutes from title number three. To do so, however, they will have to defeat an entire nation on the field, in spirit, on Thursday in Basra. Whatever happens, it should make for quite a clash.

Tiger Woods has a sloppy finish for a 75 in his return in the Bahamas

Tiger Woods has a sloppy finish for a 75 in his return in the Bahamas
Updated 01 December 2023

Tiger Woods has a sloppy finish for a 75 in his return in the Bahamas

Tiger Woods has a sloppy finish for a 75 in his return in the Bahamas
  • British Open champion Brian Harman and Tony Finau led the way at 5-under 67, one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth
  • This day was all about Woods, as it usually is whenever he plays, and especially when he has been away for so long

NASSAU, Bahamas: Tiger Woods held up just fine Thursday in his first time competing in eight months, except for limping at the end. That was more about his golf than his fused right ankle.

Woods was holding his own at the Hero World Challenge until a double bogey from a bush on the par-5 15th, followed by two more bogeys. The result was a 3-over 75, eight shots out of the lead and a score better than only two players in the 20-man field at Albany.

Asked what he got out of his round, Woods laughed and said, “Hit a lot of shots.”

British Open champion Brian Harman and Tony Finau led the way at 5-under 67, one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth, who was entertaining as ever. Spieth made only five pars and had one stretch of 10 holes without one until the final hole.

But this day was all about Woods, as it usually is whenever he plays, and especially when he has been away for so long. He expected to be rusty, and it eventually it showed.

“I didn’t have my feels,” Woods said. “Conditions were tough early. I did not finish off the round like I needed to. Kind of went sideways at the end.”

He was 1 under for the round through 14 holes when he pulled his tee shot to the left at the base of a bush. He contemplated his options before decided to try to punch it out toward the fairway or even a bunker, even though he could take the club back only a foot or so.

Woods caught mostly soil and advanced it only a few feet. He punched his third shot back to the fairway and then came up about 40 yards short of the green. He pitched that to 10 feet only to miss the bogey putt.

He found a fairway bunker off the tee on the tough 16th, came up short of the green and hit a weak pitch to 20 feet that led to bogey. Then, he three-putted the par-3 17th from 45 feet.

Woods wasn’t the only player who struggled in his return. Will Zalatoris had back surgery right after he withdrew from the Masters. He had three double bogeys and a bogey in a four-hole stretch around the turn and closed with one more bogey for an 81.

Woods attributed his mistakes to a lack of commitment, that coming from a lack of playing. Instincts gave way to thinking about too many elements as he began to swing.

“Should I do this or not? By then I’m pulling the trigger,” he said. “I shouldn’t really pull the trigger. Hit a bad shot. I kept doing it time and time again. It was a lack of commitment to what I was doing and feeling. I’ve got to do a better job of it.”

He also said he was plenty sore and would resume the process he has come to know all too well — recovery in the evening, back in the gym to get his body ready before the next round.

He still had no regrets about playing for the first time since Saturday at the Masters. He didn’t finish his rain-delayed third round in the April chill at Augusta, and then had fusion surgery on his right ankle a few weeks later.

“I wanted to compete, I wanted to play. I felt like I was ready to compete and play,” Woods said. “I hit it solid most of the day. As I said, I just didn’t mentally do the things I normally would do and I need to do.”

Liverpool advance in Europa League. Aubameyang hat trick for Marseille includes overhead kick

Liverpool advance in Europa League. Aubameyang hat trick for Marseille includes overhead kick
Updated 01 December 2023

Liverpool advance in Europa League. Aubameyang hat trick for Marseille includes overhead kick

Liverpool advance in Europa League. Aubameyang hat trick for Marseille includes overhead kick
  • Liverpool are four points clear atop Group E with 12 points

LONDON: Liverpool advanced to the round of 16 of the Europa League with a game to spare after Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo scored early to set the tone in a 4-0 victory over Austria’s LASK on Thursday.

Diaz headed in a cross from Joe Gomez for the opener in the 12th before Gakpo tapped in Mohamed Salah’s pass three minutes later at Anfield. Salah made it 3-0 early in the second half in what was his 199th goal for the Reds. Gakpo added his second in stoppage time.

Liverpool are four points clear atop Group E with 12 points. Toulouse in second on eight after a 0-0 draw with Union Saint-Gilloise.

Leverkusen remained the only team with a perfect record after five games. Victor Boniface and substitute Patrik Schick contributed a goal apiece for a 2-0 victory at Hacken in Group H and a place in the round of 16.

Tomas Soucek struck late again to help West Ham beat TSC Backa Topola 1-0 and advance to the knockout stage.

The midfielder met Maxwel Cornet’s cross at the far post to volley home the winner in the 89th minute in Serbia.

Soucek, who has scored in five straight games, had snatched a 2-1 victory for West Ham against Burnley with a stoppage-time winner Saturday in the Premier League.

West Ham are tied atop Group A with Germany’s Freiburg, who routed Olympiacos 5-0. Michael Gregoritsch had a hat trick by the 36th minute. Kiliann Sildillia and Ritsu Doan also socred. The winners both have 12 points.

The Hammers need only a point against Freiburg on Dec. 14 in London to win the group and avoid a two-legged playoff in February.

Brighton advanced from Group B after Joao Pedro converted from the spot for a 1-0 win over 10-man AEK in Athens.

Pedro was fouled in the box before sending goalkeeper Cican Stankovic the wrong way for his fifth goal of the campaign. The hosts lost midfielder Mijat Gaćinović to a second yellow card in the 65th minute.

Marseille forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s hat trick included a stunning overhead kick and two penalties — one in stoppage time — in a 4-3 win over 10-man Ajax to lead to Group B with 11 points. Brighton trail by one. AEK remain on four points in third, Ajax have two.

The eight group winners in Europe’s second-tier competition earn a direct place in the last 16 of the competition whereas finishing in second only gets a team a playoff against the clubs who drop into the Europa League as third-place finishers in Champions League groups.

Atalanta advanced directly to the round of 16 despite 1-1 draw at home with Sporting Lisbon. Sporting substitute Marcus answered Gianluca Scamacca’s opening goal. Atalanta won Group D with 11 points. Sporting are second with eight.

Roma’s 1-1 draw at Servette in Geneva allowed Slavia Prague to settle atop Group G following a 3-2 win at Sheriff in Tiraspol. Roma trails the Czech team by two points with a game remaining.

In Group C, Lukas Haraslin’s second-half curling shot from the edge of the area led Sparta past Real Betis 1-0 in Prague to keep the Czech team’s home for a top-two finish alive.

Maccabi Haifa remained winless in last place in Group F after a 3-0 loss to Rennes in a game played at the Puskas Arena in Budapest because Israel are not allowed to host UEFA-sanctioned matches due to the war with Hamas.

Also in the group, 41-year-old goalkeeper Pepe Reina helped Villarreal beat Panathinaikos 3-2 to climb to second on an all-time list of appearances in European competition with his 189. Only Cristiano Ronaldo played more, 197.


Greece’s PAOK became another team to join Viktoria Plzen in the round of 16 as a winner of Group G with a 2-1 away win at Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Czechs won 1-0 at Ballkani to make it five wins from five in Group C.

Aston Villa moved to the top of Group E after a 2-1 win over Legia Warsaw. Moussa Diaby and Alex Moreno had a goal each at Villa Park with Ernest Muçi netting for the visitors. Villa needed to win by two or more goals to clinch the top spot in the group.

Club Brugge thumped Besiktas 5-0 in Turkiye to lead Group D with 13 points. Bodo/Glimt trails by three after a 5-2 win over Lugano.

A first-place finish earns a direct spot in the last 16, while finishing in second takes clubs into a playoff with third-place finishers in the Europa League.

Al-Qubaisi sisters: ‘F1 Academy saved our careers’

Al-Qubaisi sisters: ‘F1 Academy saved our careers’
Updated 01 December 2023

Al-Qubaisi sisters: ‘F1 Academy saved our careers’

Al-Qubaisi sisters: ‘F1 Academy saved our careers’
  • Emirati history-makers Hamda and Amna reflect on their motorsport success

ABU DHABI: They have pulled off some impressive feats individually in the world of motorsport, but if you ask Amna and Hamda Al-Qubaisi what they consider to be the highlight of their careers, the Emirati sisters choose a moment in which they both got to shine.

“I would say Red Bull Ring, the first round in Austria, where we got to share a podium,” Amna, 23, told Arab News in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

“I shared the podium with my sister. It was an amazing feeling and I hope we can do the same again,” added Hamda, 21.

The older Al-Qubaisi sister is referring to the opening round of the inaugural F1 Academy all-female series, which saw Hamda finish second in race three and Amna take third place.

Earlier that day at Red Bull Ring, Amna claimed victory in race two, but stepping on the podium together with her sister in the next race ultimately proved more special to both of them.

From a young age, the Al-Qubaisi sisters have made a habit of making history.

At 18, Amna became the first Emirati female driver to race in single-seater competitions internationally when she joined the grid in Italian Formula 4.

In 2019, she became the first Arab woman to win a Formula 4 race when she topped the podium in the F4 UAE Trophy Round at Yas Marina Circuit during the F1 Grand Prix weekend, and in 2021, Amna took things further by becoming the UAE’s first female F3 driver.

Hamda made waves when she scooped six race wins across her first two full seasons in F4 UAE — 2020-2021 — but her big moment on the international stage came in June 2021 when she became the first woman in history to make the podium in the Italian F4 Championship, placing third in the first race at Misano World Circuit. She was just 18 years old at the time.

By the end of 2022, the careers of Amna and Hamda were in jeopardy as they struggled to find the necessary funding to keep racing. But then came the announcement of the launch of F1 Academy, an all-female racing series aimed at developing and preparing young female drivers to progress to higher levels of competition.

Both sisters were signed by Dutch team MP Motorsport for the inaugural season, which saw Hamda finish third in the F1 Academy championship and Amna secure P6.

“Honestly, it saved my career,” said Amna of the F1-supported initiative.

“I was about to stop racing and they saved my career by having the budget really low and the opportunity to race on extraordinary tracks. So a big thank you to Susie Wolff for creating the F1 Academy and giving me the opportunity to be back racing again.”

Hamda, who took four race victories in the inaugural championship, was also concerned either she or Amna would have to drop out of competing.

“For me, I think F1 Academy also saved my career. We were really low on budget and it was at a point we were choosing between us, who would race and who would stop,” said Hamda.

“So it wasn’t really a nice feeling and I’m happy we’re able to share the track together, as teammates as well, representing our country. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Since the start of their careers, Amna and Hamda had been competing in mixed competitions, side by side with male drivers, so switching their focus to an all-female series could have been considered a risky move. But Hamda feels her level has only gone higher, and her top-five finish in the F4 UAE Trophy Round with Yas Heat Racing in Abu Dhabi last weekend, which featured a competitive mixed grid, has helped her prove her point.

“F1 Academy has done great, I performed really well there, and it hasn’t done anything (negative) to the level I’m at,” said Hamda.

“Being an all-female series, people thought it would bring my level down but I’m here (at Yas Marina Circuit) competing in a mixed grid and I’m still at the top. So it goes to show how strong the grid was and how females can really perform in this category.”

But can an all-female series really be the right stepping stone for women looking to make it to Formula 1?

“Yes, I think for sure,” replied Hamda. “Because I’ve been through a lot of championships and to be honest F1 Academy has been one of the most competitive championships I’ve raced at. Considering I’ve raced on a 40-plus-car grid in F4 Italia, in F4 UAE, so to be in F1 Academy 15-car grid but still so competitive, it’s a really high level and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Hamda’s F1 Academy campaign was all the more impressive considering she had surgery for a broken wrist just six weeks before the season started. The doctors told her she would need four months to recover but Hamda somehow managed to make it in time for pre-season testing in Barcelona and she stood on top of the podium, winning a race in Valencia, just 75 days after going under the knife.

“At one point I was already in the fight for the lead of the championship,” said Hamda, reflecting on her season. “So for me it was amazing. I was able to perform really well at such a high level; especially as an Emirati woman in the sport, I showed what we’re capable of and I’m sure a lot of women here in the region can do the same.”

Arguably the fastest sister act in all of motorsport, the Al-Qubaisis have successfully navigated what could have been a very tricky dynamic as siblings, teammates and competitors.

“In the beginning it was quite tough,” admitted Amna. “I mean, in karting we used to take each other out. But I think we’ve matured and in single-seaters we really have an advantage to everyone else, being sisters. We really help each other on track and off track. So it’s really good to have a teammate that’s your sister.”

Hamda explained their nuanced approach to how they manage races that bring them mixed fortunes.

“It happened a few times, when I’m mad and she’s happy, she tries not to be as happy, to not make me feel worse, and vice versa,” said Hamda. “But at the same time we celebrate each other’s wins despite what happens to each other. So if she won I’ll be there for her, I’ll celebrate no matter what happens to me.”

Still only 21, Hamda walked away from her first season in F1 Academy with many lessons learned.

“For sure it’s more about dealing with the pressure, trying to stay focused no matter what and forget about people or outsiders, whatever they have to say. I made a few mistakes on my side, driving-wise, but then again, I can’t look at the people who criticize me and I have to forget it and think tomorrow’s a new day, start fresh and learn from my mistakes,” she said.

“That’s one thing I struggled with; I would always let the past haunt me but I’ve learned a lot this season. I’ve learned to trust the process and see how things go.”

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah
Updated 01 December 2023

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah

Emirates Team New Zealand sail into early lead as America’s Cup gets underway in Jeddah
  • The New Zealanders win the first 2 of the day’s 3 races to top the overnight standings on 22 points, ahead of Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on 18

JEDDAH: Emirates Team New Zealand dominated the first day of racing with two wins as the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah began on Thursday. They topped the overnight standings with 22 points, followed by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli of Italy on 18.

In the first race of the day, the New Zealanders finished ahead of British team INEOS Britannia, Swiss team Alinghi Red Bull Racing, and Orient Express Racing Team of France. American Magic were disqualified for leaving the regatta boundaries.

New Zealand’s success continued in race two, in which they finished ahead of Alinghi, INEOS, Luna Rossa, who had problems at the start, French team Orient Express and American Magic.

In the third race, Luna Rossa put in a very strong and controlled performance to win by a good margin, easily finishing clear of Orient Express, Alinghi, INEOS and New Zealand. American Magic once again were disqualified.

“It was a good start for us today, despite the error we committed in the third race, but we managed to be on the top,” Peter Burling, New Zealand’s skipper, told Arab News.

Ruggero Tita, helmsman for Luna Rossa, said: “We are super happy about this last-race win. Of course, it was a super-tricky race but we managed to arrive at the end on the foils which means that we did a really good job.”

The Swiss team of helmsmen Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin, and trimmers Yves Detrey and Bryan Mettraux, faced lighter than expected winds as they put their full focus on staying up on the foils. The crew challenged for a podium place in the first race, finished second in race two, and then successfully chased down several boats from behind after a start penalty in in the third race to grab third place. They finished the day tied for third with INEOS on 15 points.

“It was a solid day for the team, one of those days where you come back (to be) in the middle of the standings and you say, ‘It could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse,’” said Pietro Sibello, their performance coach.

“So overall, I think it was a good day. We should all be happy and hungry for an even better day tomorrow.”

Arnaud Psarofaghis, the Swiss skipper said: “It was really tough conditions. Today was about sailing the boat as well as we could, and mainly about staying on the foils. The last week of training was really useful for us out there, given the marginal conditions.”

Three races are scheduled for Friday, followed by two on Saturday, after which the top two teams will advance to the final.

Benzema inspires Al-Ittihad win before injury

Benzema inspires Al-Ittihad win before injury
Updated 01 December 2023

Benzema inspires Al-Ittihad win before injury

Benzema inspires Al-Ittihad win before injury
  • New coach Marcelo Gallardo got his first Roshn Saudi League victory following his appointment earlier in the month

JEDDAH: Al-Ittihad continued an impressive week of sport for Jeddah with a 4-2 win over Al-Khaleej on Thursday to give new coach Marcelo Gallardo his first Roshn Saudi League victory following his appointment earlier in the month.

It makes it two wins out of two in the space of four days for the Argentine coach who saw the Tigers book a spot in the knockout stages of the Champions League on Monday with a win over AGMK of Uzbekistan.

This was just as important, although it did not actually take place in the Red Sea port at all. With state-of-the-art boats from around the world thrilling sailing fans at the Jeddah Yacht Club on the Corniche, Ferrari spending time in the city, and the ATP Next Gen tennis tournament at King Abdullah Sports City, the game with Khaleej was moved to the King Abdulaziz Stadium in nearby Makkah.

Those who made the journey were soon celebrating as Igor Coronado opened the scoring after just nine minutes, the goal coming after great approach play from Karim Benzema.

The former Real Madrid marksman picked up possession just inside the opponents’ half and sped off into the distance. The Frenchman was well inside the penalty area when his shot was blocked, the loose ball falling to Coronado who converted from close range.

The lead should have been doubled after 12 minutes with Benzema coming close to finishing a slick move, only for his shot to come back off the post with the goalkeeper nowhere.

Soon after, Fabinho was marauding into the danger area but the former Liverpool midfielder was unable to get his shot away.

Just before the half hour, Ittihad claimed a handball by Abdullah Al-Shanqiti. The video assistant agreed and Benzema stepped up to roll the ball home from the spot for his ninth league goal of the season.

The former Ballon d’Or winner, who seemed to have picked up an injury, was then substituted, limping off the pitch on which he had contributed so much despite the short space of time.

There will be concerns given that Al-Ittihad are taking part in the FIFA Club World Cup in less than two weeks’ time.

Just before the break, Khaleej were awarded their own penalty after Mansour Hamzi went down following a challenge from Marcelo Grohe, Khaled Narey making no mistake from the spot after the referee had viewed the monitor.

There was another visit to the monitor on the hour as Abderrazak Hamdallah went down in the middle of four defenders just inside the area. For the third time in the evening, the kick was given, and for the third time it was converted. Hamdallah took over Benzema’s duties and the two-goal cushion was restored, though goalkeeper Marwan Al-Haidari got a hand to it.

There was not much he could do 16 minutes from the end, though, when substitute Zakaria Al-Hawsawi cut in from the left, feinted past one defender and skipped away from two more before driving a low shot into the bottom corner.

The visitors did grab another before the end, but a flying volley from Fawaz Al-Terais was too little, too late.

This was another good win for Al-Ittihad and another triumph for Jeddah.

Earlier in the day, Alhi picked up their biggest win of the season as they thrashed Abha 6-0. Gabri Veiga and Firas Al-Buraikan scored two each while Franck Kessie and Riyad Mahrez bagged one apiece. 

The result keeps Al-Ahli in third, four points behind Al-Nassr in second and eight behind the leaders Al-Hilal, with the top two meeting in the eagerly awaited Riyadh derby on Friday.