Gulf Cup 24 - Group B Preview

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Mitch Freeley

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Oman – Defending champions eyeing semi-final spot

Winners -  2009, 2017

Coach – Having enjoyed a long run as assistant coach to younger brother Ronald, Erwin Koeman has stepped up to become a first-team coach, replacing compatriot Pim Verbeek as manager of Oman in February 2019. So far, Koeman has overseen an impressive run of just one defeat in his last eight outings with Al-Ahmar. Central to Oman’s success has been a resolute backline, with the Defending Gulf Champions only conceding five goals under Koeman’s tenure. 

Key Man – The image of midfielder Ahmed Kano lifting the Gulf Cup in 2017 was a defining image for fans of Omani football, and the veteran will be looking to go all the way again in Doha. Kano, 34 is no stranger to playing football in Qatar having enjoyed several spells in the second division. The no-nonsense midfielder will have to be at his very best if Oman is to become the first side since Saudi Arabia to win back to back Gulf titles. 

Saudi Arabia – Renard plotting Gulf Cup glory in tournament bow with Saudi

Winners – 1994, 2002, 2004

Coach - Hervé Renard has enjoyed success on the African continent, and hoping he can transfer that knowhow to Saudi Arabia. The French coach is a two time Africa Cup of Nations winner, was handed the top job in Saudi football in July 2019. After four games in charge, which saw shock draws against Yemen and Palestine along with two victories over Singapore and Uzbekistan. Leaving the Green Falcons in good shape to qualify for the second round of 2022 qualifiers. The Gulf Cup provides a vital opportunity for Renard to get some early silverware for his new side. 

Key Man -  Al Hilal winger Salem Al Dawsari will be the man to watch for Saudi in Doha. The 28-year-old has been one of the standout players in the side for some time now and impressed in Saudi’s appearance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Fresh from winning the AFC Champions League with his club side, Al Dawsari will be eager to go again in the pursuit of Gulf Cup glory. 

 

Kuwait – Will the Blue Wave secure a record eleventh Gulf Cup?

Winners – 1970,1972, 1974,1976,1982, 1986, 1990,1966,1998, 2010

Coach – Having only been confirmed coach following the sacking of Romeo Jozak in September, former player Thamer Enad will be hoping he can revitalize his squad ahead of the Gulf Cup. It’s been an encouraging start for the Kuwaiti coach who has overseen two draws and two wins during his tenure, including the 9-0 demolition of Chinese Taipei. Kuwait is without a doubt the undisputed kings of the Gulf Cup, and Enad will be hoping that his side can step up in Doha.  

Key Man – Kuwait’s all-time leading appearance maker Bader Al-Mutawa is no stranger to making a splash at the Gulf Cup having a huge say in Kuwait winning the 2010 edition, scoring three goals, including the opener in the semi-final against Iraq. At 34 years old, his best days might just be behind him, but don’t rule out the Qadsia striker to be a difference-maker for Kuwait. 

Bahrain – Sousa looking to guide the pearl divers out of Group B. 

Coach – Bahrain turned to Portuguese coach Hélio Sousa following the departure of Miroslav Soukup after guiding the nation to the knockout phases of the AFC Asian Cup. The signing of Sousa, who had previously guided Portugal U17 & U19 sides to European Championships seems like an astute signing. The early signs from the 50-year old coach have been impressive, helping Bahrain win the 2019 WAFF Championship in Iraq, along with a strong start to qualification for the 2022 World Cup. 

Key Man - Kamil Al Aswad seems to be the main beneficiary as Bahrain look to a new generation of talent. Two goals in the qualification campaign for the World Cup, including a vital winner away to Cambodia suggest that the 25-year old could become a key figure in the side. Domestically, Al Aswad has two goals in two games for Al Riffa. With newfound confidence in front of goal, don’t be shocked if Aswad makes an impact at the Gulf Cup. 

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