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Kuwait enter Gulf Cup semis
Hisham Al Gizouli / 13 January 2013
Ten-time Gulf Cup champions Kuwait defeated traditional rivals Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 1-0 in a closely contested clash in the final leg of Group-B at the National Stadium in Manama, Bahrain on Saturday night.
Yousuf Nasser scored the all important goal of the Gulf oldest derby 13 minutes into the first half of the fast-paced clash. Kuwait raised their tally to six points and escorted Iraq to the semi-finals to set appointment with UAE in the knock out stage on Tuesday.
It was a must win for the Saudis, and this was the only possible chance for them to stay in hunt for the title, while a win or a draw would send defending champions Kuwaitis through.
Kuwait have won this title for the ninth time in 2011 in Yemen. But their opponents who have claimed the crown on three occasions, were last crowned in 2003 in Kuwait.
And while this was not the first time for the region’s football powerhouse to quit from the preliminary round, the defeat will put many things at stake, including the job of the Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard.
The angry Saudi media have put like this before the match: “It’s either ‘Green’ or ‘Black’” hinting that either the boys in green should win or Rikaard should depart. The Kuwaitis reply was, ‘The Gulf Cup is our game and the Blues are in Bahrain to defend their title.”
In another clash of Group-B, a brace by Dhergam Ismail in the 16th minute of the first half and Hammadi Ahmed in the 59th minute helped Iraq beat Yemen in one-sided game.
Iraq have topped the Group-B standings with perfect nine points will take on hosts Bahrain on Tuesday while the leaders of Group-A UAE will clash against Kuwait, the runners up of Group-B in the semis.
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