Qatar coach Bruno Pinheiro has expressed his happiness after Al Annabi opened their 25th Gulf Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Kuwait in their Group B first match at Al Minaa Stadium in Basra.
One of the two debutants for Qatar in the match, Amro Siraj handed his team the lead with a superb strike in the 23rd minute before Ahmed Alaaeldin scored from the spot in the 38th minute to seal victory. The three-time champions then held on to their lead well to take three points and top place in Group B ahead of defending champions Bahrain, who defeated the UAE 2-1 in the first match of the group.
Speaking at the press conference after the match, Bruno said: “The beginning of the match was difficult; the Kuwaiti team was seeking to put pressure on us, but after that we succeeded in controlling the game and we took the lead. This gave us confidence to perform well in the game.”
Regarding the importance of this victory for the young players in the squad, the Al Annabi coach said: “The victory is important for these players, some of whom are participating in the Gulf Cup for the first time, and we know the value of the tournament and therefore we worked to provide our best. I think it’s also important for these players as a boost to do better in such tournaments.”
“We will now shift focus on the match against Bahrain and we look to bag full points against them,” he added before thanking fans for their support.
He added: “We faced some difficulties during this game, but we overcame them and succeeded in maintaining the scoreline. We hope that the result will have a great impact on our journey in this tournament.”
“We take each match separately, so after winning the first match, we must then think about the second match, against Bahrain. We must work to keep pressure away from the players by focusing on each match, working to achieve the best result by performing at the required level.”
Portuguese Pinheiro, who replaced Felix Sanchez ahead of the tournament, must be a happy man bagging victory in his first match as Qatar national coach with youngsters displaying a good show. Tamim Mansour – son of Qatar and Al Rayyan legend Mansour Muftah – was the other player to make Qatar debut.
“We took control in the start and we created chances especially in the second half but we couldn’t score. If the team can create opportunities, it can score. In a big way, Qatar won, but luck helped them a lot in the first goal,” said Kuwait coach Rui Bento.
Talking about the next match against UAE, he said: “The next match will be finals for us. We have to forget the previous result and work to avoid mistakes, as there is no room for any error.”
Our focus is to win the match against Yemen: Ivankovic
Oman will be looking to earn full points against Yemen when the teams face each other in a Group A match at the Basra International Stadium today.
Oman had shared the spoils in their opening clash with hosts Iraq after a goalless draw while Saudi Arabia won their match against Yemen to go top of the group after the opening day’s matches.
The Red Warriors’ go into the game favourite on paper.
However, Croatian coach Branko Ivankovic dismissed the notion that the “match will be an easy outing.”
Speaking on the eve of the match, Ivankovic said: “We are not afraid of any teams in the competition. There are no easy matches at this level. We are higher-ranked and better as a team on paper as compared to Yemen. But we respect our opponents. It is not going to be a cakewalk as the match is important for both the teams. Our focus is to win the match tomorrow. The opening game was a difficult one but we managed to earn a point.”
A victory will ease Oman’s path into the next round.
“It is important for our players to concentrate on the pitch and produce a good performance,” Ivankovic said.
Yemen’s coach Miroslav Soukup of Czech Republic said: “The match against Oman is important. Oman are one of the favourites to win the tournament. It will be a tough match against them but my boys will strive to give their best.”
In the second match of the evening, Saudi Arabia will take on hosts Iraq.
“We are happy with the team’s performance against Oman. We did not win the match but the credit goes to opponents as they also played well,” Iraq coach Casas said.
Casas promised a much improved show against Saudi Arabia.
“We are ready for the next match. I am sure we will not disappoint our fans,” the Spaniard said.
Qatar coach pleased with confidence-boosting win
Former champions Oman will take on Yemen, Saudi Arabia to meet hosts Iraq today
Qatar’s Amro Siraj celebrates after scoring against Kuwait during the Arabian Gulf Cup match at the Al Minaa Olympic Stadium in Basra on Saturday.