UAE on brink of Arabian Cup elimination after Kuwait defeat

Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s side lose second game in three days

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The UAE are on the brink of crashing out of the Arabian Gulf Cup at the group stage following a last-gasp defeat to Kuwait in Basra in Tuesday — their second loss in three days.

Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s side, who opened their Group B campaign on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat to holders Bahrain, were beaten 1-0 at Al Minaa Olympic Stadium.

Bidding for a third regional crown, the UAE were outdone by Walid Abbas’ own goal in injury-time, when the Emirati defender — his team’s captain — glanced home an Ahmad Al Dhefiri free-kick.

The result leaves the UAE, champions in 2007 and 2013, with an uphill task to qualify for the semi-finals. They need to defeat Qatar by two goals on Friday and hope group leaders Bahrain beat Kuwait in the group's other match, which is played simultaneously.

In a relatively uneventful first half, Kuwait carved the best chance, when striker Shabaib Al Khaldi sent a diving header from close range straight at UAE goalkeeper Khalid Essa. Kuwait had earlier had a goal correctly disallowed — Al Khaldi was a yard offside before eventually looping his header over Essa and into the UAE goal.

Right before half-time, the UAE also went close, but midfielder Majid Rashid could not get enough purchase on Harib Abdallah’s centre. His header was saved comfortably by Kuwait goalkeeper Sulaiman Abdulghafour.

The UAE began to dominate in the second half, with Rashid inches away from converting Khalid Ibrahim’s cross, Sebastian Tagliabue firing way off target from just inside the penalty area, and substitute Yahya Al Ghassani forcing Abdulghafour into a fine sprawling save from range.

At the other end, Kuwait Faisal Zayid somehow placed his effort high over the UAE crossbar from 12 yards out, when he should really have scored.

However, there would be a final sting in the tail, with Abbas inadvertently flicking Al Dhefiri’s set-piece beyond Essa three minutes into injury-time.

Updated: January 12, 2023, 2:56 PM