Bahrain defeated Syria 1-0 last night in a tightly contested friendly match at the Shaikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Stadium in Muharraq.
The hosts started off stronger, with Mahdi Abdullatif cutting in from the left and releasing a shot in the 14th minute that ended up straight at Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma.
About a minute later, Syrian forward Mohammed Alhallak, who plies his trade in Bahrain with league leaders Manama, had the opportunity to score the first goal following a defensive error by the hosts, but his point blank shot was denied by a great save from Bahraini goalkeeper Omar Rajab.
Ebrahim Alkhatal had the chance to give Bahrain the lead in the 19th minute, only for the shot to be deflected just over the crossbar by the Syrian defence.
With the resulting corner, Mohamed Marhoon headed the ball on target, only to be denied by the Syrian keeper, a rebounded header from Alkhatal went wide to keep the score level.
Alkhatal continued to be a nuisance to the Syrian defence, attempting a shot from just outside the box in the 39th minute which was saved by Alma.
He then forced the Syrian keeper to make another save barely two minutes later by heading a cross from Komail Alaswad’s freekick at goal.
Bahrain finally broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute, Alkhatal’s cross from the right finding Abdulla Alkulasi, who gave his team the 1-0 lead through a header.
Syria almost responded immediately through Oliver Kawo, but his shot went over the bar, ending the first half 1-0 to Bahrain.
The Syrians made changes in the second half, including bringing on striker Omar Alsoma in an attempt to turn the game around.
Bahrain started the second half strong however, with Marhoon’s shot from outside the box being saved by Alma.
Sayed Isa attempted a long free kick in the 66th minute, with an ambitious shot ending up on target, but was tipped away by Alma.
Bahrain had a golden opportunity to double their lead minutes later with Marhoon’s cross ending up at Isa’s feet, only to be denied by another save by Alma.
Bahrain continued to be the better side during the next few minutes with shots from Alaswad and Ali Madan, neither of whom were able to take their chances.
Soma almost made the Bahraini defence pay in the 81st minute following an unforced error, only for the Syrian striker’s volley to go high.
Things stayed as they were for the remainder of the game, giving Bahrain a well-deserved 1-0 win.
The victory may end up being Bahrain coach Helio Sousa’s last, with his contract reportedly ending in June.
The Portuguese tactician, who led Bahrain to a historic Gulf Cup win in 2019 over Saudi Arabia, is yet to agree a contract extension with the football association, and should his stint come to an end, will leave as one of, if not the most successful coach in the history of Bahraini football.