MUSCAT, Jan 6 – Oman, champions of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup, arrived to a great home reception on Saturday evening. The special Royal Air Force flight carrying the team delegation reached the Muscat International Airport at 5.30 pm. Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud al Busaidy, Minister of Diwan of Royal Court, received the delegation at the airport. Shaikh Saad bin Mohammed al Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs, and Shaikh Rashad al Hinai, Undersectretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, were also present.
Then, the team took an open bus to the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher, where a grand reception was ready for the Sultanate’s heroes. Oman captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’, who stepped in first with the Gulf Cup from the flight, said the whole team has tried very hard to achieve the glory. “We are so happy for the people of Oman. It wasn’t easy at all. All the players’ hardwork paid off in the group stages and we reached the semifinals”
“In the semifinals, we did our best against Bahrain and in the final we pushed ourselves to achieve the title.”
Oman’s hero for the final, goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi, said it was a very challenging tournament.
“In the final, it was a difficult moment for me when we conceded a penalty in the 90th minute. The thought about the dreams of the Omanis for the title pumped me up and I could save it.
“In the penalty shoot-out I thought we had four goal scored and it is the time for me to make my contribution. I was lucky enough to anticipate Omar Abdulrahman’s kick and could save it for the team.”
“Mohsin Jawhar al Khaldi then fired it in for Oman as clinched the crown,” Fayez said.
At the Bausher stadium, the fans filled the venue and the players arrived on chariots to the ground amidst loud cheers.
Later, they went around the ground with the title and posing for photographs with fans all around.
Ilyas, a sixth standard student at Al Andalus Private School in Mabelah, was all joy for Oman.
“I expected the title for Oman,” he said.
“I’m a big fan of Said al Ruzaiqi, who scored a brace against Saudi Arabia in the tournament,” the jubilant boy said.
Ilyas said this is a great win and he wants to celebrate as the champion feeling is still to sink in, summing up the mood of the night.