Oman to take on UAE in final

Oman national team displayed an inspiring first half to earn a 1-0 victory against Bahrain to reach the final of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup at the Jaber International Stadium on Tuesday. Saham club playmaker Mohsin Jawaher provided a corner kick into the first post which was turned into own goal by Bahrain attacker Mehdi Abdul-Jabbar with his jumping header in the 29th minute of the match. Despite Bahrain’s ball possession in the second half, Pim Verbeek’s men showed a disciplined game and kept their lead until the end of the game. The Red Warriors completed a run of three successive clean sheets, thanks to the strong defence and super goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi’s golden saves.
Oman will meet the UAE in the final on January 5, a repeat of the 18th Gulf Cup final. The UAE reached the final after they defeated Iraq in a tense penalty shoot-out.
The UAE, bidding for a third title, triumphed 4-2 from the spot after the second semifinal had finished goalless.
Mohammed Barghash scored the deciding spot-kick following Iraqi misses from substitute Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Humam Tariq.
Oman’s tactician manager Pim Verbeek expressed his satisfaction of the performance that his players gave in the semifinal. “I’m extremely proud of my players. It was a very difficult game, but we fought until the last minute. I’m pleased with the final score,” Veerbek told the post-match press conference.
“The pressure was very high on us in the second half. We could’ve scored the second goal if we had more power.”
“Anyway, I’m happy for my team, happy for Oman.”
Bahrain were the better side in the second half and they created some serious chances.
“It wasn’t the plan to stay in the back, but the way Bahrain played, made us change our style of play,” the Dutchman added.
“The changes were late because the result was 1-0, so you have to be prepared if they equalised. We would’ve played an extra time, so I kept one player on the bench until the last minute in anticipation for such case.
“My defenders were very clever while dealing with the Bahrain’s tall striker (Mehdi Abdul-Jabbar).
“I also have to appreciate my goalkeeper Fayez, who did a great job with his two amazing saves.”
Master coach Verbeek, who have been appreciated by the Omani fans, said he is prepared to take on the best in the final.
“We have a lot to be improved in the team. But on the other hand, last week 70 per cent of the Omani fans voted that we won’t even pass the group stage, and we proved them wrong,” Verbeek said about the Twitter poll which was done by Oman Daily Observer before the start of the tournament.
In this tournament, the performance of Oman national team brought back the Omani fans to stand behind the team as they did before eight years when they won the 19th Gulf Cup title.
“I would like to thank the fans who came all the way to support us in large numbers. I would like them to come on Friday as well and cheer for us,” Verbeek told Oman Observer.

Jaber Al Ajmi