Oman beats United Arab Emirates on penalties after extra time in final of football tournament, which moved to Kuwait due to Gulf dispute
MUSCAT – Oman ended a brutal extra time Gulf Cup final against the United Arab Emirates on Friday in Kuwait by winning a penalty shootout 5-4 after a game with many chances but no goals.
The dramatic game was marred when an elevated platform in the Sheikh Jaber al Ahmad Stadium in Kuwait City collapsed, injuring 40 people, reports said.
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The barrier at the stadium broke as fans from Oman pressed against the glass during celebrations, said Associated Press. A number of those injured were treated in hospital.
Oman predominated during the match but after a goalless 90 minutes it ended with a nerve-shredding shootout when Emirates top player Omar Abdulrahman missed his second penalty of the match to send the white team out.
The two Gulf teams faced off in the 23rd Gulf Cup with thousands of hopeful fans heading to Kuwait to watch the final of the biannual tournament.
Oman was the relative outsider in the final, having last won the competition in 2009. The UAE were winners in 2013 in the Bahrain final, and before that in 2007.
Oman’s goalkeeper Faiz al-Rusheidi saved a controversial penalty taken in the 89th minute by Abdulrahman, preventing a repeat of an earlier group game when the UAE scored a one-goal win on a penalty.
The competition was scheduled to take place in Qatar but due to the Gulf dispute, with Saudi, UAE and Bahrain blockading Qatar over alleged support for extremism, the government in Doha agreed to move the event to Kuwait. The decision in early December gave Kuwait little time to prepare to host the finals.
Oman’s sports ministry and air force put on eight free flights to get fans to the match in Kuwait city.
Omani fans chanted in front of public screens in the capital Muscat as the minutes counted down at the end of full time and into extra time.
In Azaiba, Khalil al-Hedaifi, who was watching with a group of friends, said: “I think from the second match Oman played we knew they were going to make it to the final and they were gonna win.
“We qualified number one in the group and that is the mark that said the cup is for us.”
Malik Balushi, also watching, broke away from whooping, singing and dancing to say: “I feel great, I feel incredible. Tonight’s game was intensive. It’s about pride... .
“The penalties were a tough moment but they made me and the whole of Oman happy. Even expats who live in Oman are happy tonight.”
In Qatar, Oman's victory led to major celebrations as people took to the streets to salute the winner.