Bahrain fall to narrow loss in Arab Cup | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain fall to narrow loss in Arab Cup

TDT | Manama

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain fell to a narrow 0-1 defeat to hosts Qatar last night in their opening match of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021. Midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem scored the winner for the home side with a 69th-minute header.

The Qatari skipper fired home in the face of the goal off a cross from the left supplied by forwarding Akram Afif. The Bahrainis had a number of changes in both halves to score but were unable to apply the finishing touches and fire into the net. The game was the first of three for both sides in Group A of the competition’s preliminary round.

It was played at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. Bahrain is back in action on Friday when they took on Iraq, who drew 1-1 with Oman in yesterday’s other Group A clash. With yesterday’s results, the Bahrainis are bottom of the group table with zero points.

Head coach Helio Sousa started a first 11 that included Sayed Mohammed Jaafar between the posts; Waleed Al Hayam, Sayed Dhiya Saeed, Ahmed Bughammar and Sayed Redha Isa in defence; Ali Madan, Mohammed Hardan, Jassim Al Shaikh, Komail Alaswad and Mahdi Humaidan in midfield; and Mohammed Al Rumaihi as the lone striker. A majority of Bahrain’s chances came in the first half.

The nationals should have taken the lead in as early as the seventh minute, but Humaidan hit his header from close range just inches wide of the left post off a well-placed cross from the right-wing by Alaswad.

Saeed also had a good chance with a 44th-minute free-kick from distance, but his left-footed effort barely flew past the outside of the right post. Goalkeeper Jaafar was in top form in the opening 45 minutes, making a number of crucial saves to keep the Qataris at bay.

But in the second half, the Qataris were able to find their winner as Hatem did enough to head home past the outstretched arm of a diving Jaafar.

Sousa made a number of substitutions in an attempt to try and salvage a draw. Mohammed Jassim Marhoon came on for Humaidan, Ismaeel Abdullatif substituted Al Rumaihi, Abdulwahab Al Malood stepped in for Hardan, Mahdi Abduljabbar came on for Madan, and Abbas Alasfoor went on for Al-Shaikh.

Abduljabbar had one last chance in the fifth and final minute of second-half stoppage time, but his shot from near the goalmouth was saved by Qatar goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb. In yesterday’s draw between Iraq and Oman, Salah Al Yahyaei put the Omanis ahead with a goal in the 78th minute.

But the Iraqis were able to salvage a point in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time through Hasan Abdulkareem, who scored from a penalty. Bahrain’s match with Iraq on Friday is scheduled for an early kick-off at 1 pm. It will be played at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium.

In Friday’s other game, Oman face-off with Qatar at 4 pm. Bahrain is one of 16 teams in the competition. They have been divided into four groups for the preliminary round. The top two teams in each group at the end of this stage move on to the knockout quarter-finals.

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Bahrain’s Jassim Al Shaikh battles for possession of the ball with Qatar ‘s Homam Ahmed during their match last night

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Artists perform during the opening ceremony

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Artists take positions to form the Arab Cup logo during the opening ceremony