Bahrain stun Saudi Arabia to win first Arabian Gulf Cup
December 9, 2019 | 7:12 AM
by Times News Service
Photo supplied

Doha: Bahrain stunned Saudi Arabia 1-0 to win their first Arabian Gulf Cup at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Sunday evening.

The tiny island nation’s success came just hours after another Arab country – the United Arab Emirates – had decided to sack coach Bert Van Marwijk after they failed to make it through to the knockout stages of the 24th edition of the tournament.

It was Mohammed Al Rumaihi’s 69th minute goal following an assist by Mahdi Al Humaidan that saw Bahrain’s players make history at the tournament, and bring glory to their country.

In a first half that saw a few chances created between the two nations that are connected by the King Fahd Causeway, Sultan Al Ghanam was booked for Saudi Arabia just four minutes into the game. It was the men in green who had the most clear-cut chance of the first half, when midfielder Salman Al Faraj was given a chance to put Saudi Arabia ahead from the penalty spot, but he missed his 12th minute spot kick, and the game remained goalless at half time.

The Saudis decided to make a half-time change, bringing on one defender for another when Talal Al Absi came on for Mohammed Al Khabrani, and five minutes later, Sayed Baqer was shown a yellow card for Bahrain. Striker Thiago Augusto was brought on for Bahrain after 63 minutes to add more firepower, and six minutes later, Mohammed Al Rumaihi fired Bahrain in front after Al Humaidan’s assist.

Saudi coach Herve Renard made another change in the 72nd minute, bringing on Abdul Fattah Asiri in place of Abdullay Otayf, to which Bahrain responded by throwing on another defender, the fresh legs of Waleed Al Hayam replacing the tired ones of Rashed Al Hooti.

Four minutes from time, Renard flung on Mohammed Kanno for Abdulellah Al Malki, but Bahrain coach Helio Sousa replaced one defender with another to add more alertness to the backline. Mohamed Ali Hasan came on in the 90th minute for Sayed Isa.

Despite a full eight minutes of time added on, the Saudis could not break down a resolute Bahrain defence, which required some acrobatic football to keep their opponents at bay, and it was the Bahraini players who celebrated with plenty of joy and happiness at full-time.

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