JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia and Qatar filled the two vacant spots in the 19th Gulf Cup semifinals following convincing wins over their respective rivals in Muscat, Sunday.
Saudi Arabia beat defending champion the United Arab Emirates 3-0 at the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex, while Qatar advanced with a 2-1 win over Yemen at the Police Stadium.
Yasser Al-Qahtani put the Saudis ahead while Abdullah Al-Zori doubled the lead and Ahmed Al-Faridi sealed the win.
The win puts Saudi Arabia on top of Group B on seven points while Qatar is second with five.
Host Oman and Kuwait secured their berths in the semifinals finishing first (7 Points) and second (5) respectively in Group A on Saturday.
In the semifinals on Wednesday Saudi Arabia will meet nine-time winner Kuwait while Oman will play Qatar. The final will be played on Saturday, Jan. 17.
After the match Prince Sultan Bin Fahd, President of Youth Welfare, announced a cash award of SR10,000 each for the Saudi team players and staff.
Defending champion the UAE dominated the proceedings in the first half. Fares Jumah almost put the UAE in front in the 12th minute but his shot was saved by Saudi keeper Waleed Abdullah.
Ismail Matar made another attempt in the 21st minute which was again saved by Abdullah. Matar was unlucky again four minutes later when his long-range shot missed the Saudi bar by inches.
The only Saudi threat in the first half came in the 42nd minute when defender Osama Al-Hawsawi headed a cross wide.
The Saudi team, however, turned the tables on the UAE after the break when it took the lead 12 minutes into the second half. Yasser Al-Qahtani even dodged the advancing UAE keeper Majed Naser to put the ball into the back of the UAE net.
The goal added confidence into the Saudi ranks and they applied more pressure. Abdullah Al-Zori doubled the Saudi lead through a solo effort when in the 70th minute he drove from the left wing into the box before firing the ball over Naser’s shoulder into the net.
Two minutes later, Qahtani broke the UAE off-side trap before sending a quick pass to Al-Fraidi, in the box, who put the ball into the empty UAE goal and sealed the Saudi victory.
Qatar’s journey to the second stage was not easy as the team waited until the last minute to seal the win thanks to Majdi Sadiq’s free kick in the 97th minute.
Yemen, which lost its previous match 6-0 to Saudi Arabia, made it quite difficult for the Qataris who took the lead first in the 13th minute through Mosa Haron.
Yemen’s ace striker Ali Al-Nono equalized 15 minutes from the break. Yemen then played solid defense and it was only close to the end of the match that Sadiq succeeded in sealing the win for Qatar.