Oman edge Bahrain to enter Gulf Cup final
January 2, 2018 | 8:30 PM
by Sports Reporter
Time to celebrate: Captain Ahmed Mubarak 'Kanu' leads Oman's celebrations. Photo - ISMAIL AL FARSI/Times of Oman

Muscat: Oman moved a step closer to Gulf Cup glory after a solitary goal victory over Bahrain in the first semifinal of the 23rd edition of the regional football extravaganza in Kuwait on Tuesday.

It is one of the ironies of football that sometimes a team’s destiny is made or marred by an own goal. And at the Jaber Al Ahmed International Stadium in Kuwait City, it was Oman who benefited from an own goal by Bahrain’s Mahdi Abduljabbar.

The 1-0 verdict paved Oman’s way into the fourth final where the 2009 champions will be hoping to corner glory for the second time with a victory over the winners of the second semifinal between Iraq and the UAE.

Against Bahrain on Tuesday, it was Oman who dominated the proceedings but it was their opponents who made Pim Verbeek-coached side’s task easy by netting the goal in the 29th minute.

The goal came just after a splendid save by Bahraini custodian Said Mujtaba Alawi. Against run of play, captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’ put the ball through for Khalid Al Hajri, who gave a back pass to Jameel Al Yahmadi.The latter unleashed powerful shot but the rival goalkeeper just about managed to tip the ball over the bar.

But soon the Bahraini custodian was left frustrated when Oman went ahead off the resultant corner when veteran Omani winger Saad Suhail floated the ball in and unfortunate Mahdi Abduljabbar head the ball into his own goal.

Pim Verbeek’s decision to switch back to 4-2-3-1 formation, instead of 4-4-2 he preferred in their final Group A game against Saudi Arabia, paid off well for the Omanis.

The Dutch coach went with lone striker Khalid Al Hajri in front of attack-minded trio of Raed Ibrahim, Mohsin Johar and Jameel Al Yahmari with captain Ahmed Mubark ‘Kanu’ and Hareb Al Saadi marshling the midfield.

The four-man defence in front of custodian Fayeez Al Rusheidi was ably manned by Ali Al Busaidi, Mohammed Al Musallami, Fahmi Said and the experienced winger Saad Suhail.

Verbeek’s tactics worked well against Bahrain whose moves were restricted to the midfield thanks largely to Oman’s solidity in that area.

However, it was winger Saad Suhail who set the ball rolling for the Sultanate squad with a threatening move five minutes into the match when he sped down the right before taking a shy at the rival goal. But the Bahraini defenders thwarted the danger.

Oman went on to waste two clear goal scoring chances after quarter hour. First captain ‘Kanu’ was in the thick of action as Oman developed a move from the left but unmarked Mohsin Johar saw his shot fly over the bar.

Soon after it was Saad Suhail’s turn to side-net the ball after being fed from the midfield.

As the match progressed, Bahrain tried to match Oman but it was the latter who threatend to score at least on two occasions. Following a series of raids, Oman earned a free-kick in the 23rd minute and ‘Kanu’ surprised the rivals with a powerful piledrive but fortunately for Bahrain the ball went straight to keeper Sayed Mujtaba.

Player of the match: Ahmed Mubarak's award came as an icing on the cake in Oman's victory. Photo - OFA

Four minutes later, Jameel Al Yahmadi unleashed a powerful long-range shot but Sayed Mujtaba just about managed to push the ball over the bar.

However, a minute later the Bahraini keeper was left banging the sidebar in frustration as Mahdi Abduljabbar nodded the ball into their own goal.

While that goal dented the morale of the Bahrainis, they did well to put up a fight in the second half when their Czech coach Miroslav Soukup brought in Ibrahim Hadid in place of Abdullah Ali.

For a brief period, Ibrahim Hadid troubled the Omani defenders no end and in fact on two occasions came close to clinching the equaliser.

In the 59th minute, the unmarked Bahraini substitute fired straight into the body of a Omani defender. And in the 63th minute, following a corner taken from the right, Ibrahim Hadid came up with superb diving header but Omani custodian Fayeez Al Rusheidi too made an excellent save, diving to his left.

Bahrain’s best chance came in the 80th minute and once again it was Ibrahim Hadid who came up with a close range shot. Though the ball got under Fayeez’s body, Ali Al Busaidi cleared the ball in time to keep Oman on the path to the final.


Fayeez Al Rusheidi

Ali Al Busaidi

Mohammed Al Musallami

Fahmi Said

Saad Suhail

Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’

Hareb Al Saadi

Raed Ibrahim (Mahmood Al Mushaifri)

Mohsin Johar (Yasen Al Shiyadi)

Jameel Al Yahmadi

Khalid Al Hajri


Waleed Al Hayam

Sayed Baqer

Abdulla Abdo Omar (Sami Al Hussaini)

Ahmed Abdulla Ali (Ibrahim Hadid)

Sayed Dhiya

Abdulwahab Ali

Ali Madan

Sayed Reda Issa

Sayed Mujtaba Alawi

Kamil Al Aswad

Mahdi Abd Al Jabar (Abdulah Yousuf)

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