KUWAIT CITY: Saudi Arabia missed out on a Gulf Cup semi-final place after a 2-0 defeat to Oman in Kuwait on Thursday.
Although the Saudis started well, Oman soon came back into the match with promising bursts on the break. Their first chance came when the ball came in from the left and was met by Abdul Aziz Al-Muqbali, but he failed to make a proper connection.
That bright start soon started to fade as Saudi Arabia came back into the match and started to force the Omanis deep into their own half. Despite their dominance and superior possession, Saudi Arabia’s players failed to find a breakthrough in the first half.
They were left to rue that lack of creativity as Oman came out after the half-time break much the better side and in the 58th minute took a surprise lead. Said Salim, a second-half substitute for Al-Muqbali, put away a rebound after Assaf Al-Qarni had saved the initial shot.
The shock of going behind seemed to shake the Saudi Arabian players into action as with less than half-an-hour to go, they started to put pressure on the Omani defense. As they searched for the equalizer, however, Oman remained dangerous on the break.
As desperation grew among the Saudi Arabian ranks, they continued pressing forward and thought they had found the equalizer in the 75th minute, only for the assistant referee to rule it out for offside.
It got worse for Saudi Arabia soon after, Oman added a second to take the game beyond their reach. Al-Mushaifri’s cross was met and buried by Khalid Khalifa Al-Hajri.
In spite of sustained pressure, another disallowed goal and two late penalty shouts Saudi were unable to find a goal. Oman are joined in the semi-finals by UAE, who were held to a goalless draw by hosts Kuwait in Thursday’s other match. Iraq, Bahrain and Qatar will fight it out on Friday for the remaining two semi-final spots.