Kuwait pulled off the upset of the Under 23 Gulf Cup last night in Doha as they shocked the favourites Oman by eliminating them from the competition after winning a penalty shoot-out 5-4 following a goalless draw. The game was decided in sudden death in the shoot-out after both sides had scored four of their five spot kicks. Ali al Jabri's shot banged off the crossbar for Oman and Adil Matar held his nerve to slot in the winner for Kuwait to put them in Saturday's final at the Aspire Academy Stadium.
The game could and should have ended earlier had Kuwait scored from the good chances they created. In the first half, Nasser Yousef broke through the offside trap, but was wide with his effort from the edge of the box with only Mohammed al Zaabi, the Omani goalkeeper, to beat. Hamad Rashid Amman missed a sitter after Yousef had put him through with a superb pass in extra time. Yousef also went close with two efforts, the second of which was well kept out by the initially wrong-footed al Zaabi.
After looking unconvincing in the group stages, Kuwait looked a different side against Oman as they played with poise and confidence. Oman were far from impressive given the praise they had earned following their imposing victories in the group stage against Qatar and Bahrain. They had the vast majority of possession and enjoyed acres of territory, yet they were wasteful in front of goal and too often the final ball let them down as the Kuwait rearguard were able to comfortably cope with what came their way.
The closest Oman came to getting on the scoresheet was in the second half when Nasser al Shibli, the Kuwaiti defender, blocked a close-range goalbound shot from Yaqoub al Dasimi. A disappointing night for the Omanis was capped when they were reduced to 10 men after Amer Saeed was red-carded for his second booking in the dying seconds of extra time. Kuwait kept their cool in the shoot-out, and Oman now have only consolation to play for in tomorrow's third-place play-off against Qatar. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org