x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Gulf Cup: Kuwait book semi-final place against UAE with win over Saudi Arabia

The defending champions did just enough to beat Saudi Arabia and confirm their place in the final four of the competition.

Kuwait's Yousef Al-Sulaiman scores the winning goal against Saudi Arabia in their Gulf Cup clash.
Kuwait's Yousef Al-Sulaiman scores the winning goal against Saudi Arabia in their Gulf Cup clash.

The UAE will face Kuwait in the semi-finals of the Gulf Cup after the defending champions beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 last night to book their place in the last-four.

Going into their final group game, the "Gulf Cup derby", Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were level on three points each and the Saudis needed nothing less than a win to progress.

A draw would have been enough for Kuwait since they enjoyed a better goal-difference.

The 10-time Gulf champions, however, did not look very interested in playing out a stalemate and Yousuf Nasser gave them the lead in the 13th minute, outsprinting his marker and placing the ball past the Saudi keeper.

The game opened up after that and both teams threatened to score, but Nasser's goal proved decisive.

As the Saudis make an early exit for the third consecutive tournament under Frank Rijkaard's reign, following the earlier setbacks in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and the 2012 West Asian Championships, calls for the Dutchman's dismissal will grow in the coming days.

The win allowed Kuwait to clinch the second qualifying spot from the group behind Iraq, who beat Yemen 2-0 to finish with nine points from three games.

Yemen once again returned home from the Gulf Cup without a point as Dhurgham Ismail opened the scoring for the three-time champions in the 16th minute. Hammadi Ahmed then made it 2-0 in the 36th minute.

In the semi-finals on Tuesday, the UAE will take on Kuwait in the first game while hosts Bahrain face Iraq later that day.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae