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KSA ready for final showdown
By Abdullah Al-Hariri Saudi Gazette
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 01 - 2009

time winner Saudi Arabia will be seeking to clinch the Gulf Cup crown against host Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sport Complex in Muscat on Saturday.
The match kicks off at 7 P.M.
Saudi Arabia is on a roll and made it to the final beating nine-time winner Kuwait 1-0 in their semifinal encounter last week.
Saudi Arabia, which won the title in 1994, 2002, and 2003 has failed to make it to the final since the competition was restructured into a knock-out format.
Oman, on the other hand, is also in high spirits and is looking to secure its first-ever Gulf Cup title in front of its supporters.
Oman also wants to put an end to its defeats in final matches. It has been beaten in the final twice. In 2004, Qatar won the title beating Oman 5-4 on penalties. The UAE then recorded its first-ever title win with a 1-0 win also over Oman in 2007.
A fourth title for Saudi Arabia will not, however, be easy as Oman beat Asian champion Iraq 4-0 in their Group A encounter before beating the two-time winner Qatar 1-0 in the semifinal.
Saudi coach Nasser Al-Johar, who recently regained the Saudi fans' confidence, will be targeting a personal glory as well with the win. He has won the title once in 2003 when Saudi Arabia hosted the event.
Al-Johar has said that he has some cards close to his chest and he is ready to throw them for all to see in the final. “I have read the Omani team very well and I will apply proper tactics to counter them,” Al-Johar said.
The Saudi defense and goalkeeping have been one of the best in the tournament. The defense line has in fact not been breached even once during the championship in Muscat.
But Oman also has a good defense backed by Boloton's goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi.
In the midfield, the Saudi team has an upper hand when compared with its rival. Saudi Arabia will be playing without Khaled Aziz, who developed a thigh injury during the UAE match.
Al-Johar is expected to start the match with Yasser Al-Qahtani and Malek Al-Hawsawi in the front line. Both players have scored twice during the campaign.
Oman, on the other hand, will be depending on its trio Badr Al-Mimani, Emad Al-Hawsani and Hassan Rabia.
Striker Hassan Rabia leads the goal scorers. He has scored four goals and has played a major role in his team's brilliant show. __


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