Qatar off to a winning start at 25th Arabian Gulf Cup


Asian champions Qatar defeated Kuwait 2-0 to start their campaign at the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup on a winning note in “home like” atmosphere at Al Minaa Olympic Stadium, Basra on Saturday.

Backed by a good number of fans at the 30,000-seater venue, a new-look Al Annabi side produced an impressive show against the 10-time champions, scoring both the goals in the first half.     

One of the two debutants for Qatar in the match, Amro Siraj handed his team the lead with a superb strike in 23rd minute before Ahmed Alaaeldin scored from the spot in 38th minute to seal victory. The three-time champions then held on to their lead well to take three points and top place in Group B ahead of defending champions Bahrain, who defeated the UAE 2-1 in first match of the group. 

“We are happy to start with a win but we must be consistent,” Qatar’s Homam Al Amin said in a post-match interview. 

“We will now shift focus on the match against Bahrain and we look to bag full points against them,” he added before thanking fans for their support. 

“It was very surprising to see fans backing us here. It was like we were playing in Doha and we are happy to receive such a support.”   

Portuguese Bruno Pinheiro, who replaced Felix Sanchez ahead of the tournament, must be a happy man bagging victory in his first match as Qatar national coach with youngsters displaying a good show. Tamim Mansour – son of Qatar and Al Rayyan legend Mansour Muftah – was the other player to make Qatar debut.        

Kuwait had a bright start and the Blues were having more possession too before Al Annabi took control of the match with a better display. Pinheiro’s side started creating good opportunities after the 10th minute and came close to scoring twice before Siraj gave them the lead. 

Alaaeldin failed to hold ball after a good pass from Tareq Salman before Tamim failed to connect a brilliant cross from the left by Al Amin. 

Sirag handed Al Annabi a deserving lead with an angular low hit from outside the box following an attack from the left giving his team more confidence. 

Qatar could have doubled their lead soon after the half-hour mark but Kuwait goalkeeper Sulaiman Abdulghafoor did well to punch away another strike from a difficult angle by Sirag. 

Abdulghafoor again blocked a hit from Muhammad Waad but the rebound gave Alaaeldin an opportunity, who was brought down by Kuwaiti defender Meshari Ghanam while trying to thwart the attempt. After a VAR check, referee handed Qatar a penalty and Alaaeldin chipped in comfortably to double his team’s lead sending the goalkeeper other way. 

Trailing by two goals, Kuwait made several attempts to score but was unable to beat Qatar defence with goalkeeper Meshal Barsham making good saves to return with a clean sheet. 

Kuwait made eight attempts after the break and second half substitute Shabib Al Khaldi missed a good chance as he failed pick a cross which beat Barsham. 

The Qatari goalkeeper, however, put away a hit from Mubarak Al Faneni and rose to punch away another threatening strike on target by Eid Naser Al Rashedi. 

Al Annabi continued to hold attacks from Kuwait late into the match to ensure an impressive win in the opener.

Qatar will play Bahrain on Tuesday while UAE will meet Kuwait the same day.  

Earlier, Bahrain scored two second half goals to start their title defence with full points at the same venue. 

After a goalless first half, Kamil Al Aswad scored for Bahrain in 60th minute with Jasim Al Shaikh extending the lead with a 77th minute goal. Sebastian Tagliabue scored consolation goal for the UAE in second minute of injury time.   

After a break today, the Gulf Cup action will resume tomorrow with Saudi Arabia taking on hosts Iraq in Group A. The other match in group will pit Oman and Yemen.


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