UAE exit Arabian Gulf Cup at group stage following disappointing draw with Qatar

National team, beaten in their opening two matches in Iraq, finish bottom of Group B

UAE's Caio Canedo, centre, fights for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup match against Qatar in Iraq on Friday, January 13, 2023. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The UAE were eliminated from the Arabian Gulf Cup at the group stage on Friday night when they failed to beat Qatar.

The national team, regional champions in 2007 and 2013, were held to a 1-1 draw at Al Minaa Olympic Stadium in Basra, where Fabio De Lima’s 76th-minute goal was cancelled out two minutes from time by Tameem Al Abdullah. Caio Canedo had earlier missed a penalty.

After opening Group B with successive defeats, the UAE needed to win by two clear goals and hope pool leaders Bahrain saw off Kuwait in the night’s other match.

However, the result ensured the UAE would leave the competition at the first juncture. Qatar did advance to the last four, though, after Bahrain and Kuwait also ended 1-1. With a solitary point from three fixtures, the UAE finished bottom of the group.

To be fair, Rodolfo Arruabarrena's side began brightly on Friday, with Yahya Al Ghassani surging forward only to unleash a tame effort, and Harib Abdallah firing straight at Qatar goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham from the angle.

Then, not long after the half hour, Qatar’s Amro Surag did likewise at Khalid Essa after the ball fell at his feet inside the UAE penalty area. Soon after, Essa did well to palm away Khalid Muneer’s fierce drive from range.

Qatar spurned the best chance of the first half deep into injury-time, when Yusuf Abdurisag was sent clear and jinked inside the lunging Walid Abbas. However, with the goal at his mercy, the Qatar forward somehow lifted his effort high above the crossbar.

Shortly after half-time, the UAE almost took the lead. Having worked himself free down the left, Caio cut back the ball to Al Ghassani, who swivelled and shot, only for Barsham to save with his feet.

The UAE were awarded a penalty on 66 minutes, following a lengthy VAR check. Back defending a set-piece, Surag was ultimately adjudged to have fouled Abbas as the UAE captain attempted to shoot, leaving Caio to take the spot-kick. Yet the forward sent his penalty against the post.

Immediately, Caio had an opportunity to make amends, racing clear of the Qatar defence and rounding Barsham, but his goal-bound shot was blocked by defender Tarek Salman.

Caio redeemed himself with 14 minutes remaining. Feinting past his marker once more on the left flank, he crossed for De Lima, who volleyed home.

The UAE’s celebrations were short-lived, though. Homam Ahmed crossed for Al Abdullah, with the substitute providing the deftest of touches to finish first time past Essa.

It was a deadly blow to the UAE, who had started the tournament with ambitions of winning a third Gulf Cup crown. Qatar, three-time champions, will take on hosts Iraq in Monday’s semi-final.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 5:59 PM