IT was an unproductive day for Bahrain yesterday as they played out a goalless draw against Oman in the 24th Gulf Cup in Doha and went down fighting on all cylinders – 70-77 – in a key clash against Saudi Arabia in the 14 GCC Basketball Championship in Kuwait City.
In Doha, Bahrain played positively, penetrated deep into the Omani territory with the right purpose but the perennial problem of panicking with the last punch persisted.
The men in Red missed chances galore in the Group ‘B’ opener and in the end had to settle for a single point while they deserved the full three with at least a couple of goals margin.
Bahrain, coached by Helio Sousa of Portugal, clearly lacked the firing power and the killer punch which makes all the difference between victory and defeat. Jasim Al Shaikh perhaps missed the best chance in the first-half when he struck the Omani goalkeeper Fayez Al Rashidi with a feeble shot from close while the whole goal was at his mercy.
The trend of wasted opportunities continued in the second-half with Mohammed Rumaihi and Mehdi Humaidan combining well to create yet another chance. But again they could not translate territorial superiority into a goal, particularly in the last 15 minutes during which they frequently fumbled or stumbled with the goal right in front.
Defending champions Oman too had their share of opportunities but like Bahrain could not find the right man at the right time to convert guilt-edged chances.
As both coaches, Sousa of Bahrain and Dutch coach Erwin Koeman of Oman, said at the press conference later last night, it was an exciting match but one of missed opportunities.
“We played against a team with talented players. We can take a lot of positives from this match and it was a very good learning experience. We want to improve on it,” said Sousa.
“The last 15-20 minutes was very exciting though we could not witness a goal. But a point was worth it.”
Coach Koeman expressed strikingly similar views.
“We too had our share of chances and, like Bahrain, missed them. It was a good game for us as well. We have to fine-tune a few things and we will,” said Koeman, who won the Euro title in 1998 with the Dutch team.
Bahrain’s next match is against Saudi Arabia at 8pm on Saturday. Kuwait take on Oman at 5.30pm on the same day.
Later in the night, Kuwait outplayed Saudi Arabia 3-1.
Kuwait’s Ahmad Al Dhefeeri scored the opener by capitalising on a cross-over from captain Bader Al Mutawwa. Sami Al-Sane, in an assist by Al Mutawwa towards the end of the first half, added a second goal.
Mubarak Al Feneini scored Kuwait’s third goal in the last minute of the match before Feras Al Buraikan netted Saudi Arabia’s lone goal.