Bahrainis reach Abha for qualifier
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Supreme Council for Youth and Sports first deputy chairman, General Sports Authority (GSA) president and Bahrain Olympic Committee chief His Highness Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa met with Bahrain’s senior men’s national football team prior to their departure yesterday for Abha, Saudi Arabia.
There, the nationals will be taking on Yemen tonight in their opening continental qualifying match for the FIFA World Cup 2026.
The game is scheduled for a 9pm kick-off, Bahrain time, at Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Sports City in Abha.
It is in Group H, where the Bahrainis are also with the UAE and Nepal in this second round of qualification under the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The fixtures are also qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup 2027.
Tonight’s contest is the first of two games in a week in the qualifiers.
Bahrain next take on the UAE on Tuesday at home at the National Stadium in Riffa.
HH Shaikh Khalid was accompanied on his visit to the team’s training by Bahrain Football Association (BFA) president Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, BFA vice-president His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Ali bin Isa Al Khalifa, GSA CEO Dr Abdulrahman Askar, BFA secretary general Rashid Al Zoubi, and other officials.
HH Shaikh Khalid urged the players to give their best effort in the matches and wished them all the best.
Bahrain’s delegation that departed yesterday for Abha was headed by national team director Rashid Al Zayani.
It included head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, his staff and supporting team members, along with the players.
According to the team’s programme, the nationals held training at the match venue last night and also had a pre-game Press conference featuring Pizzi and a Bahraini player.
There are 30 of the Kingdom’s top talents on the squad.
They include Ali Madan, Mohammed Marhoon, Abdulla Yusuf, Moses Atede, Mahdi Humaidan, Ahmed Bughammar, Mohammed Adel, Mohammed Al Hardan, Abdulkarim Al Fardan, Ali Hassan, Sayed Mahdi Baqer, Hussain Al Aker, Komail Al Aswad, Jassim Al Shaikh, Mohammed Abdulqayoom, Hazza Ali, Sayed Mohammed Jaafar, Amine Hasan, Waleed Al Hayyam, Abdulla Al Khalasi, Mubarak Mohammed, Ebrahim Luthfallah, Abdulla Al Hashash, Ebrahim Al Khattal, Mohammed Abdulwahab, Ebrahim Al Wali, Salem Hussain, Hussain Abdulkareem, Hamad Al Doseri and Jassim Khelaif.
There are five rounds in the FIFA World Cup qualification format for the AFC, which will have eight teams book their tickets to the global showcase, plus potentially another following an inter-confederation play-off.
Thirty-six nations are directly in this second stage, divided into nine groups of four.
The teams will play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The nine group winners and group runners-up advance to the third round.
In addition to this, they will also automatically qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2027. Aside from FIFA World Cup qualification, Bahrain are also gearing up for the next edition of the AFC Asian Cup, to be held in Doha in January of next year.
These are the national team’s first official games under Pizzi.