Oman's heroes will receive an official reception, but will there be a holiday?
January 5, 2018 | 10:30 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan, [email protected]
Oman beat the UAE 5-4 on penalties after both regulation time and extra time finished goalless. Photo: Oman FA

Muscat: Oman’s victorious Gulf Cup team will be accorded an official government reception when they land in Muscat on Saturday evening.

Oman beat the United Arab Emirates 5-4 on penalties in the final of the Gulf Cup, after both normal and extra time finished goalless.

A special parade has been accorded to the Sultanate’s heroes, who have made the country proud and flown the flag with pride in Kuwait. All the stops will be pulled out for them as they are escorted from Muscat International Airport to the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Boushar, at around 5pm on Saturday evening.

The government sports ministry is calling on all citizens to “welcome our heroes” at the event. The last time Oman won the Gulf Cup in 2009, the government declared a one-day holiday for everyone to celebrate the victory.

Plaudits and messages of congratulations have been pouring in from both inside and outside the Sultanate.

“Our national football team are champions of the 23rd Gulf Cup!” tweeted Oman’s Ministry of Sports Affairs. “We are waiting for you at 5pm at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex to welcome our heroes.”

The nation’s Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance also got in on the act, tweeting, “Congratulations to the Oman national team, who have been crowned the 23rd Gulf Cup champions, and to all the loyal fans and their audience.”

Oman’s national football association simply said, “Dream come true,” while sharing a poster of the Arabian Gulf Cup.

Legendary Omani goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was quick to praise current stopper Faiz Al Rashidi, who saved two penalties during the game, both from UAE midfielder Mohammed Abdulrahman: the first a crucial save in the 89th minute of the game, and the second an equally vital one at the end of the shootout.

“The Winner of the cup is Faiz the hero, Faiz the magnificent,” he exclaimed. “Faiz, you have brought the nation and country joy. Thank you, lions and sons of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.”

Top Omani racer Ahmad Al Harthy said it best, though, simply tweeting a series of Omani flags to commemorate the occasion.

Congratulatory messages have also come from leading figures in the other GCC nations.

“Congratulations to dear Oman on the win,” tweeted Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, a relative of the Emir of Qatar and a leading businessman in the country. “Mabrook to the UAE, mabrook to Kuwait and a thousand thanks to Kuwait. Congratulations on a successful tournament.

“No matter how we divide politics, we remain people and brothers,” he added. “We ask Allah to unite us.”

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, also showered praise on Oman’s national football team.

“Congratulations to the leadership and people of the Sultanate of Oman at the 23rd Gulf Cup,” he said. “A fantastic performance of Omani youth, and we have seen the fine feelings of our brothers, the Omani people. Our mutual love will only increase. The cup and the joy of fraternal peoples goes to Oman.”

Oman beat the UAE 5-4 on penalties after both regulation time and extra time finished goalless. The Sultanate had previously lost 1-0 to the UAE in the opening game of this tournament, but overcame that defeat to beat Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, before edging Bahrain 1-0 in the semi-final.

This win is Oman’s second triumph, having previously won the trophy in 2009. Coincidentally, when Oman last met the UAE in similar fashion, it was Oman who’d beaten them 2-1 in the opening round of the Gulf Cup in Abu Dhabi in 2007, before the Emirates had the last laugh when they beat the Sultanate 1-0 in the final.

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