x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Majed Naser preserves Gulf Cup record

The UAE goalkeeper has another outstanding game to maintain his side's unbeaten record at Gulf Cup in Yemen.

Oman’s Saeed al Mreighi, left, vies for the ball with UAE’s Maher Galoum in Aden yesterday.
Oman’s Saeed al Mreighi, left, vies for the ball with UAE’s Maher Galoum in Aden yesterday.

Majed Naser, the UAE goalkeeper, had another outstanding game last night to maintain his side's unbeaten record at Gulf Cup in Yemen and keep them in with a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Having travelled to the regional championship with a depleted squad, Srecko Katanec's side held Oman, the defending champions, to a 0-0 draw last night to take their tally to two points from two games in the Group B.

Oman are also on two points after their opening 1-1 draw with Bahrain, but they will be under pressure to win the last group match with Iraq, the Asian champions, tomorrow.

The UAE play Bahrain tomorrow, with both matches scheduled to start at the same time.

Iraq finally recorded the first win in the group last night, defeating Bahrain 3-2 with two goals from Alaa Abdul-Zahra and they now head the table.

"We are in a very strong group and we have done pretty well to win two points from two games, Subait Khater, the Al Jazira midfielder, said. "The two results have given us more confidence ahead of our match with Bahrain. It is a win or bust game for both teams. Again it was important not to lose.

"This group is now already in the knockout format and anything is possible. If we can win the next game we are in the semi-finals.

"We are in a very strong group and we have done pretty well to win two points from two games. The two results have given us more confidence ahead of our match with Bahrain. It is a win or bust game for both teams.

"We travelled with a new squad and this is also part of our preparation for the Asian Cup in January. It certainly was a much improved performance than the first match with Iraq, and I am sure we can get even better in the next game."

Naser was kept busy throughout the 90 minutes and he made some excellent saves including a close range header from Fawzi Basheer, the Oman forward, who plays for Baniyas in the Pro League. Naser, the Al Wasl stopper, went full stretch to his left to push out Basheer's effort on the hour and then did well to keep out several more shots at the goal to deny Oman. In the first half he had got a strong hand to a powerful shot from Emad al Hosani.

"Majed has been really outstanding in both games," Khater added. "He is experienced and the best we have in the country. He is aware we needed some big efforts from him and has delivered it for us."

Had it not been for Naser, the UAE would not have earned a point from Iraq in the opening match. The keeper pushed out a penalty kick from Younus Mahmoud three minutes from time in a scoreless draw against the Asian champions in the opener.

Although Oman had more scoring opportunities, the UAE that had the best chance of the game. Maher Jassim failed to control a cross from Khater early on with the goal at his mercy.

"We were a bit unlucky," said Ali al Wehaibi, the Al Ain midfielder. "We played a good defensive game because we didn't want to lose to Oman. We also created a few chance and could have scored on one occasion. But we can't be unhappy with the result because it has kept us in the competition."

* Compiled by Amith Passela