Oman outlast UAE to emerge champions
UEA's Salem Ghazy (centre) vies for the ball against Oman's Ahmed Mubarak (left) during the Arabian Gulf Cup final in Kuwait City.
Abu Dhabi - The UAE football's pride Omar Abdulrahman missed two penalties
By Ashwani Kumar
Published: Fri 5 Jan 2018, 9:20 PM
Last updated: Sat 6 Jan 2018, 12:24 AM
The UAE football's pride Omar Abdulrahman missed two penalties as Oman clinched the Arabian Gulf Cup trophy at a 65,000-packed Jaber International Stadium in Kuwait City on Friday night. And some 120 minutes of play fell short to find a champion but Oman finally secured their second Gulf Cup in a shootout.
The UAE were left to rue the near-misses as keeper Khalid Eisa's heroics went in vain. However, Oman were deserving champions for they dictated terms and dominated the final.
The encounter was like a boxing match where Khalid Eisa stood tall against the onslaught in normal time but his luck ran out when it came to lotteries.
In the penalty shootout, Ali Mabkhout, Ahmed Barman, Ismail Ahmed and Mohammed Al Menhali were on target for the UAE. Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali, Saad Suhail, Ahmed Mubarak 'Kano', Mohammed Al Mashari and Mohsin Al Khaldi netted for the Sultanate to make it 5-4 victory.
Earlier, the UAE talisman Omar, the best player in Asia, had the chance to shut the door on Oman but fluffed his penalty in the last minute of normal time.
The UAE had missed out on Russia World Cup berth and were desperate for a trophy. And on the night, head coach Alberto Zaccheroni, knowing Ahmed Khalil's reputation as a big match player, handed him the captain's band despite the player having a quiet tournament. There wasn't any fizz in the move as Khalil couldn't make an impact in an encounter dominated by Oman from the start.
Oman showed more hunger and swarmed for goals. Mainstays Suhail and Ahmed 'Kano' made easy visits into the UAE box and threatened with volleys. The ease with which Oman attacked had keeper Khalid Eisa blast his defenders for laxity. The UAE players were frustrated lot and collected some nine booking, including an Omar Abdulrahman yellow.
Towards the end of first-half, Oman's Al Khaldi was unlucky to miss out on what was a beautifully constructed attempt. The UAE played with a tight off-side line and twice Oman's Khalid Al Hajri was caught in the trap.
The UAE did have their moments and a good chance came through a one-two between Mabkhout and Omar, with the former having a go at the goal. Oman continued to push after the break and Suhail was unlucky to miss out on a good opportunity at the right flank.
Eisa stood tall against the sundry attacks from Al Khaldi, Suhail and Al Hajri. At the stroke of an hour, Oman's Jameel Al Yahmadi from the left flank had one whiz past the far right post.
The UAE players nearly went into a shell and forgot to attack. And a one-off chance came but Omar failed to find a direction with his header off Mabkhout's cross.
However with 15 minutes on the clock, the UAE woke up and pushed forward. And they were rewarded with a penalty. Oman's Mohammed Al Musalami was found guilty of bringing down Mabkhout. In the ensuing penalty, Omar tried to place the ball into the left corner but keeper Faiz Al Rushaidi kept it out brilliantly.