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Gulf Cup: Saudi Arabia beats Qatar to join Bahrain in final

Bahrain made it to final after beating Iraq on penalties earlier on Thursday
Tournament is held every two years among national teams of Iraq, Yemen, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia beat host team Qatar 1-0 in the semi-final of the Arabian Gulf Cup, joining Bahrain in the final of the tournament that saw Gulf adversaries face off amid ongoing political tensions.

A 28th minute goal from 20-year-old striker Abdullah Al-Hamdan on Thursday was enough to send the Saudis through to the final round, as they fended off a late Qatari onslaught that led to many missed chances. 

Earlier in the day, Bahrain won a penalty shootout (5-3) against Iraq after open play ended with a 2-2 draw.

All four goals in that semi-final were scored in the first half.

The Gulf Cup in Qatar comes at a time of possible rapprochement between the tiny Gulf peninsula and its estranged neighbours.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia's King Salman invited Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit set to take place in Riyadh before the end of the year.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates along with Egypt launched a boycott of Qatar, accusing the country of interfering in their internal affairs and supporting militant groups - charges that Qatar denies.

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The impasse has persisted, as Doha refused to agree to a list of demands presented by the Saudi-led bloc, which included shutting down the Al Jazeera news network.

Despite restrictions on travel between the blockading nations and Qatar, the countries' national football teams have been able to attend tournaments hosted across the Gulf. 

Earlier this year, Qatar won the Asian Cup in the UAE, beating Japan in the final in Abu Dhabi. 

After the Gulf Cup, Qatar will be hosting a series of winter tournaments, including the Club World Cup later this month, in preparations for the 2022 World Cup

The World Cup was moved to the end of the year to avoid the scorching summer temperatures in Qatar.

The Gulf Cup final between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will be played late on Sunday.

The tournament is held every two years between the national teams of Iraq, Yemen, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.

Kuwait hosted the 2017 Gulf Cup, which was won by Oman.