BAHRAIN’S senior men’s national football team are set to take part in their first major competition under newly signed head coach Helio Sousa.
The Bahrainis are set to compete in the 2019 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship, which is scheduled to begin today in Iraq.
Nine teams are taking part in this tournament. They have been divided into two groups for the first round. Group ‘A’ features hosts Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon; while Group ‘B’ is comprised of Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
All competing teams are members of the WAFF. Only three are not competing, including Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
Matches in Group ‘A’ are being held in Karbala, while Group ‘B’ games are taking place in Erbil.
Two fixtures are scheduled for opening night. Iraq face Lebanon, while Yemen take on Palestine.
Bahrain open their campaign on Sunday when they face off with Jordan. Their next match will be against Saudi Arabia on August 7, and then they play Kuwait on August 10.
Following a single round-robin, only the winner of each group will move on from this round to lock horns in the title game. This competition format is being held in the competition for the first time.
The champions will take home $100,000 in prize money, while the runners-up will get $50,000.
This year’s tournament is the ninth edition of the WAFF Championship. Iraq are hosting for the first time. The tournament was meant to be held in December of 2017 in Amman, Jordan, but was postponed to a later date. It was then moved to Iraq and was expected to be held in November of last year, but it was again postponed to the current dates.
Bahrain are taking part for the fourth time. They are looking to finish higher than third, which was their best of the competition to date.
They claimed that placing in the previous edition of the championship, which took place in 2014 in Doha.
Bahrain head coach Sousa has been preparing for this competition with an overseas training camp in his native Portugal. The Bahrainis played seven games during their time there. They won four, drew twice and lost once.
Following the WAFF, the Bahrainis are also set to start their qualification campaigns for both the 2022 Fifa World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. They are already through to the second round of qualifying, which is being jointly held for both the World Cup and Asian Cup. Their matches begin in September.
Sousa has named a 28-player squad that prepared for the WAFF championship. The roster includes Sayed Shubbar Alawi, Sayed Mohammed Jaffar, Hamad Al Dossari, Sayed Redha Isa, Mohammed Adel, Waleed Al Hayam, Ahmed Abdulla, Abdulla Al Hazza’a, Hamad Shamsan, Sayed Mahdi Baqer, Ahmed Nabeel, Sayed Mohammed Adnan, Abdul Wahab Ali, Ali Haram, Mohammed Al Hardan, Mohammed Abdul Wahab, Jassim Al Shaikh, Sayed Dhia Saeed, Kameel Al Aswad, Abdulwahab Al Malood, Ahmed Al Sherooqi, Mohammed Al Rumaihi, Sayed Hashim Isa, Ismail Abdullatif, Isa Jihad, Ali Madan, Sami Al Hosaini and Isa Moussa.