BAHRAIN last night suffered a disheartening double blow as the national football and basketball teams went down to Saudi Arabia in two key clashes in two difference tournaments at two difference cities.
In Doha, Bahrain went down fighting to Saudi Arabia 0-2 in a crucial Group ‘B’ clash in the 24th Gulf Cup which can have a great impact on their chances to qualify for the semi-finals, while in Kuwait City, the Reds bowed out of the GCC Basketball championship with a dismaying 66-85 defeat.
In another Group ‘A’ match in Doha, defending champions Oman bounced back after a goalless draw against Bahrain in the first match, defeating the UAE 2-1 to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Oman are on top of the table with four points while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are on three each and Bahrain at the bottom with a single point.
Saudi Arabia and Oman play in the final group match tomorrow with a draw enough for both to progress into the semi-finals while Bahrain clash with Kuwait, both at 8pm, with very little chance of making it to the knock-out stage.
Bahrain coach Helio Sousa almost admitted that his team had a mountain to claim.
“It was a tough match and we struggled right through, particularly in the first-half. The Saudis proved better than Oman and we could do very little,” said Sousa at the post match press conference.
Bahrain again looked short of ammunition yesterday against a fired up Saudi side who created a lot of chances right through the match and scored once in each half to seal a vital victory.
Abdullah Alhamddan put the Saudis ahead in the 29th minute as he controlled a good pass at the edge of the box and displayed great composure in slamming the ball past Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Shubbar Alawi.
The Saudis continued to pile on the pressure and though they could not double the lead, they were successful in thwarting Bahrain’s feeble efforts at equalising.
Mohammed Al Khabrani sealed the match in the 58th minute with the second goal and Bahrain just could not recover from that setback.
In the first match yesterday, Abdulaziz Al Maqbali scored two first half penalties for Oman before Yousuf Sulaiman pulled one back for Kuwait to ensure a nervy finish.