ABU DHABI // The UAE retained the Gulf Cup last night but Yuri Faikov, the coach, was still not happy with their performance in the competition.
"They played only to half of their potential. I don't understand," said the Belarusian. "It may be they were nervous or they were tired because it has been a long season starting from July.
"They played a little bit better than they did against Kuwait in the first meeting [a 2-2 draw in the group stage] but I am not satisfied by this performance. I can only be satisfied with the result that they won.
"We now take a short break and will do some light training to keep in shape. The serious work will start after Ramadan in September."
Juma Al Dhaheri, the captain, led from the front by scoring twice after Ali Al Mazrouie had put the host team ahead in the first period. Mohammed Al Doaij pulled one back for Kuwait in the 3-1 result at the Abu Dhabi Ice Rink.
The UAE dominated the first period but could score only once despite playing three two-minute power-plays.
Jasem Al Sarraf, the Kuwait goalkeeper, was outstanding in the first period, but his side were let down by ill-discipline. Mishal Al Ajami was the first to be sent to cool-off for high sticking, Ahmad Al Ajami and Faisal Atallah for interfering.
It was during one of those power-players when the UAE managed to break the deadlock.
Al Mazrouie flicked in a rebound with three minutes of the first period left after a goalmouth melee.
Kuwait returned for the second period with more attacking intent but Al Dhaheri doubled the lead nine minutes into that period, before Al Doaij closed the gap to keep Kuwait in the game.
The UAE could have wrapped up the game in the final period but Al Sarraf brought off a superb save in front of the goal to deny Suhail Al Muhairi. It was left to Al Dhaheri to seal victory and the trophy with two minutes left.
It capped off a superb season for the UAE. They won the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in March and now they have retained their grip on the Gulf Cup, having triumphed in the inaugural competition in 2010.
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