Doha: Defending champions Oman suffered a 3-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia in their Group B match of the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on Monday. In another match, Bahrain beat Kuwait 4-2 at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium. The win sealed Saudi’s berth in the semifinals as they reached six points beside Bahrain who booked the second slot from the group with four points with a better goal difference than Oman. Saudi players commenced the first half with a strong start as Salman al Faraj was very close to put his team ahead in the second minute as he received a short pass and shot the ball which flew ahead of the bar.
Saudi midfielders controlled the centre of the field tightly. From a scoring attempt, Firas al Burikan entered the box and transferred a strong ball which went to the net in the 25th minute. The Belgian referee Alexandar Boucaut was back to the VAR system to verify the goal validity and then decided a goal for Saudi Arabia. After the opening goal of Saudi, Koeman’s players started to present more in the attacking side after a defensive style of play in the first 20 minutes of the match. Saudi players focused more on the left wing of the Oman team as most of the attempts were from this angle.
Hatan Sultan was close to score the second goal for Saudi as he benefited from a Saad Suhail defensive lapse at the back side and shot the ball but it was away from the net in the 36th minute. The youngster Al Mundher al Alawi supported the forwards ably but Saudi Arabia defense broke all the attempts. Hatan Sultan continued his attacking approach and took the charge to Oman goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi and managed to score the second goal for his team in the 42nd minute after a perfect assist from Salman al Faraj who provided him a golden pass.
Mohsin Jawher got quite close to score and reduce the goal deficit but his powerful shot was saved by the Saudi goalkeeper Fawaz al Qarni in the additional time of first half which ended 2-0 for Saudi. Ali al Busaidi began the second half with a scoring attempt as he sent a perfect cross to the box zone but without any assistance to convert the shot into the goal in the 50th minute. In the 55th minute, Al Mandher al Alawi opened the account for the Sultanate as he netted the first goal through an incisive left footer that found the net. The joy of the goal did not last for more than two minutes as Hatan Sultan scored once again and increased the lead to 3-1.
The Dutch coach Koeman decided to join Said al Ruzaiqi as a replacement of Mohsin al Ghassani in 60th minute to provide some fresh legs towards the end of the game. Also, Yassen al Shiyadi came in for Ahmed Mubarak Kanu. Saudi Arabia’s captain Salman al Faraj controlled the team and managed equally the forwards attacking and returning the balls to the defense side. Oman’s search for the second goal continued as a wonderful cross from Ali al Busaidi saw Abdulaziz al Maqbali receiving and smashing a that was easily saved by the Saudi goalkeeper. The stoppage time of five minutes made no difference to Oman’s fortunes as Bahrain’s 4-2 victory against Kuwait ensured Oman’s exit and Bahrain’s progress along with Saudi Arabia.