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Al-Johar expects Saudi Arabia to sail smoothly into final
By Abdullah Al-Hariri Saudi Gazette
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 14 - 01 - 2009

Saudi Arabia takes on Kuwait in one of the the 19th Gulf Cup tournament semifinals in Muscat Wednesday.
The other semifinal will be contested between Oman and Qatar at 5 P.M. The Saudi match will kick off at 8 P.M.
Coach Nasser Al-Johar sees the Saudi side in the final. Al-Johar has said that the side is on a roll and will continue its winning run.
Al-Johar, however, admitted that the Kuwait clash will not be easy. “Kuwait played some good tactical matches in the tournament and have a solid defense,” Al-Johar told a press conference.
Abdo Atif will also be available for the match. The midfielder missed the UAE match due to suspension following his two yellow cards.
Saudi Arabia is expected to apply its usual 4-4-2 formation with Yasser Al-Qahtani and Malek Al-Hawsawi up in the front.
Al-Johar revealed that he has a couple of good players on the bench who will be ready to play in the semifinal. “We have two young players I have been preparing for sometime. They are Hassan Al-Rahib and Naif Hazazi. They have shown great promise and I am sure they will add to our striking lineup,” Al-Johar said.
Waleed Abdullah will as usual be in the goal for Saudi Arabia. “I know it will be a hard task but with assistance from our defenders I will try to keep our goal clean, not to record a personal victory but to lead the Saudi team to the final.” Waleed said.
Saudi Arabia moved into the semis topping Group B on seven points and meets the Group A second placed side which collected five points from its group games.
The Saudis, who were held to a goalless draw by Qatar in their opener, reshaped their performance in the second meeting against Yemen. They came out 6-0 winners.
In its last match in the group, Saudi Arabia routed defending champion the UAE 3-0 at the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex.
It was Yasser Al-Qahtani who put the Saudis ahead before his teammate Abdullah Al-Zori doubled the lead. Ahmed Al-Fraidi sealed the win with the third.
The UAE defeat, however, was not the only reason behind the defending champion's exit. Qatari win over Yemen the same night also contributed to it.
A late goal from Qatar during Yemen match made the Doha side finish second in the group with five points to set a semifinal match with group A leader Oman.
Meanwhile, Kuwait which was placed in Group A with host Oman faced some trouble but played a goalless draw against the home side.
In their second match, the Kuwaitis won 1-0 against Bahrain but secured their passage to the semifinals with a 1-1 draw with Iraq in their Group A last fixture. __


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