Gulf Cup 24 - Group A Preview


Mitch Freeley

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Qatar – Asian Champions Looking for double delight at the Gulf Cup

Winners – 1992, 2004,2014

Coach – Felix Sanchez, the Maroons most successful ever coach oversaw an impressive 2019 which saw Qatar win 12 games, lifting the Asian Cup for the first time in the process. The question now remains if the Spanish coach can motivate his players to win a second trophy in 2019. Qatar certainly has the quality to go all the way and win a fourth Gulf Cup. 

Key Man Abdulaziz Hatem, considered one of the older players in the squad, the Al Rayyan midfielder has been one of Al Annabi’s most consistent performers in 2019. The box to box midfielder had a crucial say in the Asian Cup win, scoring a clutch goal against South Korea in the quarter-finals. 

Hatem has a strong range of passing and can get physical when he wants to, this blend of power and skill could be critical if the Maroons are to go all the way and win a third Gulf Cup on home soil. 

UAE - Al Abyad targeting the semi-finals as van Marwijk looks to revive the UAE

Winners – 2007, 2013

Coach - Bert van Marwijk. Having guided the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, veteran coach Bert Van Marwijk has more than enough experience to get the best out of the UAE. Having been confirmed as whites coach in March it’s been a mixed bag from the games under his watch. 

Defeats to Thailand and Vietnam have been a setback in progressing for the second phase of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. However, with games to spare, van Marwijk will back himself to turn the fortunes of the UAE around. 

Key Man – With an envious record of 50 goals in 78 appearances Ali Mabkhout will be the man to watch for the UAE. The Al Jazira striker has not yet hit the heights domestically season, but when it comes to international duty the 29-year-old always steps up.  A constant menace in the box, and blessed with plenty of composure when it counts, Mabkhout will be looking to add to his goal tally in Doha. 

Yemen – Red Devils looking to shake up Group A

Gulf Cup Appearances – 8 

Coach – Now in his fourth stint in charge of Yemen, Sami Hasan Al Nash will be hoping his side can upset the odds and reach the knockout phase for the first time in their history. Having replaced Slovak coach Ján Kocian, the veteran tactician has overseen some notable results against Saudi Arabia and Palestine in World Cup qualifiers. 

Key Man - Teenager Omar Al Dahi will be relishing the chance of representing his country at his first major tournament. The 19-year-old attacker has been amongst the goals for the Red Devils in recent qualifiers, including a strike in the 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia and the winner against Palestine. An impressive performance from the youngster could alert some of the biggest club sides in the Gulf to his talents. 

Iraq – Can the Lions of Mesopotamia roar in Qatar? 

Winners – 1979, 1984, 1988

Coach - It’s been 31 years since Iraq has last lifted the Gulf Cup, and with issues away from the pitch it doesn’t seem like Iraq will be winning the title any time soon.  Recent unrest in the country has seen Iraq play it’s last two World Cup qualifiers in Jordan. Whilst payment issues of coach Srečko Katanec and selection problems have cast a shadow over Iraq’s preparation for the tournament.  Katanec has eight Al-Shurta players in the squad who are set to play a club game in Doha just a day before their opener against Qatar. Providing the Slovenian boss can manage his team efficiently and Iraq ride their luck they could make it out of the group. 

Key Man – The hopes of Iraq rest on Mohanad Ali, the teenage attacker has made a slow start to club football, following his big-money move to Al Duhail in the summer.  Still, the 19-year old boasts an impressive record at international level with 12 goals in 22 appearances.  After being on the sidelines for so long at Duhail, Ali who is known as Mimi in his homeland will be eager to make an impact at the Gulf Cup. 

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