Oman prevail in tense thriller

Oman survived a tense penalty shoot-out thriller by a 5-4 margin against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to clinch their second ever Gulf Cup at the Jaber al Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait on Friday. Oman goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi was the hero for the country as he saved two crucial penalties by mercurial UAE player Omar Abdulrahman.

Fayez’s first save was in the 90th minute, which literally extended the match to the extra-time and later to penalty shoot-out after goalless deadlock.
The lanky goalkeeper, who plays for Omani club Al Suwaiq, brought out the second save from the final kick by the UAE in the penalty shoot-out. The save, diving to the left by Fayez, sealed the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup for the Sultanate.
Earlier, he dived to the right to save the penalty during the 90th minute.
UAE’s star player Omar ‘Amoori’ was stunned by the pumped up Oman custodian both the times.
Fayez was the hero for the team in the semifinal against Bahrain too and the player carried on his
brilliant form into the all-important final to give the coveted crown to the Sultanate.
The UAE, who had defeated Oman in their first match of the 23rd Gulf Cup, tasted defeat in the final as Oman took a sweet revenge.
With the win, Oman extended their winning run to four matches.
UAE also saw their run of three consecutive draws end in a bitter way.
In the final, Fayez kept his slate clean for the third match with some brilliant saves and timely interceptions.
During the match, Oman was clearly ahead on creating chances and on many occasions they came near to scoring.
In the first half, Oman had their best chance when Mohsin al Khaldi fired a carpet shot past the UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa just to miss the right hand corner of the net by a small margin just before the half-time whistle.
Oman won several corners in the half but could not capitalise on none of them.
In the 19th minute, UAE captain Ahmed Khalil’s firm shot went just wide of first post.
Captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’ put his header straight into the hands of UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa in the 21st minute.
Jameel al Yahmadi tried some long rangers in the first-half which threatened the UAE goal.
UAE had to wait for 30th minute to find their first corner of the match after Ali Mabkhout saw his long ranger fly over the bar.
Al Suwaiq player Khalid al Hajri received a yellow card in the 44th minute for protesting an offside decision.
UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman received a yellow for showing dissent after Kanu collided with a UAE player in the 42nd minute.
In the second half, Oman started well with Saad Suhail getting past three UAE players inside the penalty box, but failed to find the target in the 50th minute.
Omar’s shot missed the right hand corner of the Oman goal after a good pass from Ali Mabkhout in the next minute.
In the 54th minute, UAE brought in Ahmed Barman for Khalifa Mubarak al Hammadi.
Mohsin Jawhar missed the chance of the match for Oman in the 57th minute after his weak header was saved by the UAE goalkeeper. Khalid al Hajri and Jameel al Yahmadi, the two tireless warriors for Oman, were involved in the brilliant attack.
In the 62nd minute, Jameel al Yahmadi’s fierce ground shot went out by a whisker.
In the 66th minute, Omar’s freekick was headed straight to Fayez by Ismail Ahmed.
In the 78th minute, Oman coach Pim Verbeek brought in Said al Ruzaiqi — the hero of the match against Saudi Arabia — for Jameel al Yahmadi.
In the extra-time, Oman — rejuvenated by the penalty save by Fayez — pressed hard to find a goal.
Coach Verbeek brought in Abdulaziz al Muqbali two minutes before the end of extra-time, to make the lucky charm for Oman in the penalty shoot-out.
Al Muqbali gave a perfect start for Oman in the penalties by netting in the first kick also.

Anuroop Athiparambath