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Underdogs sneak into Gulf Cup final

27 January 2007 21:39

ABU DHABI (AFP) - There will be a new name on the Gulf Cup this year after hosts the United Arab Emirates and Oman reached the final.

Oman reached the final for the second tournament in a row after a 1-0 win over Bahrain while the UAE beat Saudi Arabia, the only side in the last four to have won the competition before, by the same score.

With nine-time winners Kuwait finishing bottom of their group and other previous champions Iraq and Qatar also missing out on a semi-final spot, World Cup qualifiers Saudi Arabia were the most experienced team left in the tournament.

But they succumbed to the hosts courtesy of Ismael Matar´s last gasp winner for UAE, sending them into the final for the fourth time.

In the other semi-final, Oman edged out Bahrain thanks to an early second half goal from Bader Al Maimani.

"There is no logic in football," said Oman´s Czech coach Milan Macala.

"Bahrain´s players are taller than ours and still they didn´t score from the many crosses and corner kicks, while the shortest player in our side scored from an overhead."

Macala also paid tribute to goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi who helped keep the dominant Bahrainis at bay, laying the foundation for this smash-and-grab victory.

"We have disappointed in the Asiad, but this is the best reply to the many questions that have been raised to challenge our competence," he said.

"It is good to have talented players and goalkeeper like Ali Al Habsi. It is also great to have such faithful supporters who have packed the stadium or those who have been following us from the TV."

Abdullah Ismael came closest to scoring for Bahrain but his 80th minute effort hit the upright.

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