ISMAEEL Abdullatif lifted Bahrain to a resounding 1-0 victory over Jordan last night in their opening game of the 2019 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship, currently being held in Iraq.
Abdullatif scored the match’s lone goal in the 69th minute. The star striker’s effort was enough to separate the two sides in the tightly contested Group ‘B’ affair.
Abdullatif had a brilliant solo effort in supplying the game winner. Operating from the right win, he did brilliantly to evade a couple of opposing defenders in controlling a headed pass before squaring up to fire in a left-footed shot from an acute angle.
Following his goal, both teams pushed hard to add to the score line, but neither could find the finishing touches.
The win temporarily put Bahrain in first place on the Group ‘B’ standings with three points. The other divisional fixture late last night was between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Bahrain, coached by Portuguese tactician Helio Sousa, fielded a starting 11 that included Abdullatif, Mohammed Hassan, Sami Alhussaini, Ahmed Abdulla, Abdulla Alhaza’a, Jassim Al Shaikh, Ali Madan, Mohammed Hardan, Sayed Dhiya Saeed, Sayed Naser and goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed Jaffar.
The result was a fine outcome for Sousa, who was in his first official game in charge of the senior men’s national team.
Bahrain are scheduled to return to the pitch on Wednesday when they face off with Saudi Arabia. That game is scheduled for a 7.30pm kick-off. Their last group game will be against Kuwait on Saturday.
Matches in this group are all being played at Franso Hariri Stadium in the city of Erbil.
Group ‘A’ features hosts Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen. They had a rest day yesterday but will be back in action tonight, with Syria taking on Yemen and Lebanon facing off with Palestine.
This stage is being played in a single round-robin. Only the winner of each group will move on from this phase to lock horns in the title game. 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.
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.