Bahrain off to winning start
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Bahrain kicked off their continental qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2026 last night on a sensational winning note. The Kingdom’s senior men’s national football team outclassed their counterparts from Yemen 2-0 in their opening Group H match played at Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Sports City in Abha, Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed Jassim Marhoon and Ebrahim Al Khattal were on target on either side of half-time for the Bahrainis. The result earned the nationals the full three points on the group table in this second round of qualifying under the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The Bahrainis are also with the UAE and Nepal in their pool.
These fixtures are also qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup 2027. The Emiratis enjoyed a 4-0 rout of Nepal in yesterday’s other Group H contest, held at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai. Bahrain return to the pitch on Tuesday when they host the UAE at home at the National Stadium in Riffa.
Bahrain head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi fielded a first 11 that included Abdulla Al Hashash and Hazza Ali in a strike partnership, and Mohammed Al Hardan, Al Khattal, Mohammed Abdulwahab, Komail Al Aswad and Marhoon forming a five-man midfield.
Waleed Al Hayyam, Mohammed Adel and Amine Hasan were in defence, while Ebrahim Luthfallah was between the posts. Marhoon put Bahrain ahead in the 38th minute with a shot from close range. A pass to Al Hashash was not collected by Yemen goalkeeper Abdullah Al Sadi, and the ball went right into the path of Marhoon in the face of goal.
He needed only to guide the ball into the net, which was enough to put the Bahrainis ahead at the break. Al Khattal then doubled the nationals’ advantage just three minutes after the restart with a shot from inside the penalty box that took a deflection.
The Bahrainis continued to bombard the Yemen goal with chances, but could not add to the score line before the final whistle. Yemen, coached by Bahrain’s former tactician Miroslav Soukup, had only a handful of shots on goal. There are five rounds in AFC qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2026. Eight teams book their tickets to the global showcase, plus potentially another following an inter-confederation play-off.