(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
#Arab Cup 2021 By Fawad Hussain | The Peninsula
Gulf Cup champions Bahrain and Oman will enter the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium pitch in a precarious situation, tonight. With a victory must for both the teams, they will also need hosts Qatar to beat Iraq in their final Group A match to book a berth in the FIFA Arab Cup quarter-finals.
Bahrain and Oman have endured similar fates in the tournament so far drawing a game each while losing their matches against the home team. Iraq are on two points from two draws.
A victory for either Oman or Bahrain will take the team's tally to four points and if Qatar prevail over the four-time champions Iraq the same time at the Al Bayt Stadium, the winning side will advance to the knockout stage.
Bahrain players take part in a training session.
Bahrain coach Helio Sousa said the team must focus in the Oman match without worrying for result of other Group A match.
“We hope things will go in our favour but we have to keep our focus [against Oman],” the Portuguese told reporters at a pre-match press conference yesterday.
“We need to have confidence going into the match and then we can get three points.”
Bahrain, who won the 2019 Gulf Cup title in Qatar, lost to hosts 1-0 in their first match before playing a goalless draw against Iraq, and Sousa felt his team has been unlucky in the tournament.
“Our performance in the two matches unfortunately does not reflect on points table. We should have had more points. We have played good, but luck has not been on our side,” he said.
The 52-year-old hoped The Reds will be able to get the desired result against“difficult competitors” Oman.
“We know Oman team very well. They are a strong team and plays in a good collective way. We have a plan against them, hopefully it will work for us tomorrow,” said Sousa while defending his rotation policy.
“Giving all players an opportunity is a positive thing. The rotation process I rely on shows all the players in the squad are ready to play. In the past we have rotated the players and it has given us remarkable success. There is no doubt that the rotation policy gives players more experience and keeps harmony in the dressing room,” he said.
Bahrain defender Walid Al Hayyam said:“The match will not be easy and we are aware of that. But, we are targeting a win. Yes, we have not won so far but there is still an opportunity for us to qualify and we hope that things will go in our favour.”
Oman played a 1-1 draw against Iraq in their opening match before Felix Sanchez's Qatar defeated the side 2-1 in their second match. Late goals cost the Branko Ivankovic-coached team crucial points in both the matches.
Ivankovic hoped for a change in fortunes in tonight's match against Bahrain.
“Bahrain are the Gulf Cup champions. They are strong and a difficult team,” the former Croatian footballer said yesterday.
“They played very well against Qatar and Iraq and we expect a tough match. I have full confidence in my players. All we need is a bit of luck, especially since we're conceding the goals at the last minute,” he added.
Meanwhile, Oman's Salah Al Yahyai said the team is ready for the match.
“I hope the fans will attend and support us, because they give us a strong motivation and we hope to get a positive result,” the midfielder said.
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