x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Gulf Cup: Bahrain 0 Oman 0

The fireworks had to wait untl after the match. Tournament host Bahrain open the Gulf Cup of Nations tournament with a scoreless draw against Oman.

Ismail Suleiman Al Ajmi, left, of Oman vies for the ball against Mohammad Salmeen of Bahrain in the opening match of the Gulf Cup of Nations.
Ismail Suleiman Al Ajmi, left, of Oman vies for the ball against Mohammad Salmeen of Bahrain in the opening match of the Gulf Cup of Nations.

Bahrain's bid for their first Gulf Cup title got off to a disappointing start on Saturday night when the hosts were held to a goalless draw by Oman in the opening game of the tournament.

Bahrain, who hosted the first Gulf Cup in 1970 and lost in the final then, have never won the championship, finishing runners-up four times.

Their record as host has also been far from impressive, save the first time. Hosting the tournament for the second time in 1986, they finished fourth among six teams; In 1996, they did worse, failing to win any of their five games and finishing fifth with three points.

Fans, however, are hoping this time it would be different and they packed the National Stadium to the brim for the opening game.

Their support seemed to be working as Bahrain took early charge, pushing Oman on the back-foot.

They should have taken the lead in the 8th minute, but Faouzi Aaish headed Abdullah Omar's cross high over the bar.

Aaish had another great opportunity in the 22nd minute when the veteran Mohammed Salmeen sneaked him the ball on the right, but he blasted it wide.

There were few opportunities thereafter with both teams looking short of attacking capabilities. In the first 45 minutes, Oman had just one shot on goal while Bahrain had none, and those stats were identical for the second half.

The fouls counts were a lot higher, with Bahrain committing 22 and Oman 9.

The hosts received three yellow cards and Oman, who defeated Bahrain 1-0 in Kuwait last month for third place at the West Asian Championship, one.

Earlier, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, Uefa chief Michel Platini and a host of dignitaries from around the world and the region, watched a glittering opening ceremony, which had a mix of the traditional and the modern, and finished with a spectacular fireworks display.

There were no fireworks on the pitch though and the fans were left disappointed by a rustic performance. With UAE up next for the hosts, Bahrain have plenty of work to do over the next three days, especially since they lost 6-2 against the Whites in their last game, albeit in a friendly.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

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