BAHRAIN were last night crowned winners of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Championship 2019.
The Bahrainis captured the title after defeating hosts Iraq 1-0 in an exciting final played at a packed Karbala International Stadium.
Isa Ali Mousa converted the winning goal.
His strike in the 39th minute of play was enough to separate the two sides. It not only earned Bahrain a historic first crown in the regional competition, it was also their maiden title under recently signed head coach Helio Sousa who was managing the senior team in his first major competition.
The nationals also received prize money of $100,000 along with their gold medals. The Iraqis, who headed into the match as the favourites, had to settle for a $50,000 payday to go with their silver medals.
Mousa fired in the all-important winner for Bahrain from an acute angle on the left of the penalty area. After receiving a pass from teammate Mohammed Shaban, Mousa charged towards goal and then hit a powerful left-footed strike just over the right shoulder of Iraq goalkeeper Jalal Hachim, straight into the roof of the net.
Mousa’s shot was just inches away from the left post, leaving the Bahraini midfielder only a tiny gap through which to send home the winner.
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Bahrain had other chances to add to their account, but could not find the finishing touches.
Over the game’s final half-hour, the Iraqis bombarded the Bahraini goal with chances, but they themselves could not convert while Bahrain goalkeeper and captain Sayed Mohammed Jaffar was up to the task.
In the 88th minute, Jaffar made a critical save, denying Iraqi striker Alaa Abbas a shot from close range.
This year’s WAFF championship was the ninth edition of the tournament. Bahrain took part for just the fourth time. Their participation was part of preparations for their upcoming double-qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup 2023, which begin next month.
The Bahrainis are scheduled to return to Bahrain at 1pm today on a private jet.
Meanwhile, His Majesty the King’s representative for Charity Work and Youth Affairs and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports chairman Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa has congratulated Bahrain team for the historic victory.