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Bahrain meets Oman in Gulf Cup opener tomorrow
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 04 - 01 - 2013

RIYADH – Hosts Bahrain will take on Oman in the opening match of the 21st Gulf Cup Tournament Saturday. The matches, between Jan.5-18, will be played at the Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Manama.
Eight teams are participating in the event. The teams have been clubbed in two groups. The first group comprises Bahrain, Oman, the UAE and Qatar, while the second group includes Kuwait (title holder), Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen.
The first day's program sees Qatar taking on the UAE in the second match. The next day, champion Kuwait meets Yemen, while Saudi Arabia takes on Iraq.
The Saudi national team prepared for the tournament with an intensive camp at Prince Saud Bin Juluwi Sports City in Al-Khobar.
The five days preparatory camp focused on all aspects of players' training, especially fitness. Unlike other teams in the event that played friendly matches as warm-ups prior to the tourney, the Saudi national team did not play any friendlies.
The Kuwaiti team, which has won the title 10 times, is again one of the favored teams in this edition of the Cup. The Saudi and Iraqis too have won the title three times each and are considered the other teams to watch.
Qatar twice, and UAE and Oman — once each — were the other winners of the Gulf Cup, which has grown in stature since the launch of the championships in 1970.
Apart from the fact that there is great interest in who is crowned Gulf champion, the changes brought by the teams to the game will be of great importance to fans and other nations alike, SPA reported Thursday.
Al-Nadi sports daily added that the Gulf Cup tournament was the idea of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal when he was Director General of Presidency of Youth Welfare in the Kingdom. Gulf countries embraced the idea and Sheikh Muhammad Bin Khalifa, President of the Bahraini Football Federation, presented it to the then FIFA President Sir Stanley Ford Rous, who approved it during the Mexico conference in 1968.
The Gulf tournament is considered to be the biggest gathering in the Arabian Peninsula. The Gulf Cup has witnessed 798 goals in 314 matches in the past 20 championships.
The Kuwaiti national team has topped all with 181 goals and Kuwait's Jassim Yaqoub holds the player with the maximum number of goals title (18). Saudi Majed Abdullah and Iraq's Hussein Saeed share second spot with 17 goals apiece. — SG

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