The moment Oman’s goalkeeper Faiz al-Rusheidi saved a controversial penalty (screenshot)
MUSCAT – Oman ended a brutal extra time Gulf Cup final against the United Arab Emirates on Friday in Kuwait by winning a penalty shootout 6-5 after a game with many chances but no goals.
Oman predominated during the match but after a goalless 90 minutes it ended with a nerve shredding shoot out when Emirates top player Omar Abdulrahman missed his second penalty of the match to send the white team out.
— HM (@paranoidentity_) January 5, 2018
The two Gulf teams faced off in the 23rd Gulf Cup with thousands of hopeful fans heading to Kuwait to watch the final of the biannual tournament.
The competition was scheduled to take place in Qatar but due to the Gulf dispute, with Saudi, UAE and Bahrain blockading Qatar over alleged support for extremism, the government in Doha agreed to move the event to Kuwait.
Oman’s goalkeeper Faiz al-Rusheidi saved a controversial penalty taken in the 89th minute by the UAE’s Abdulrahman, preventing a repeat of an earlier group game when the UAE scored a one-goal win on a penalty.
Oman was the relative outsider in the final having last won the competition in 2009 but led on corners and shots on goal. The UAE were winners in 2013 in the Bahrain final, and before that in 2007.
Congratulations to Oman on winning the Gulf Cup of Nations!
These fans will be happy! pic.twitter.com/MdklHxCVcy
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 5, 2018
Oman’s sports ministry and air force put on eight free flights to get fans to the match in Kuwait city.
Omani fans chanted in front of public screens in the capital Muscat as the minutes counted down at the end of full time and into extra time.
In Azaiba, Khalil al-Hedaifi, who was watching with a group of friends said: “I think from the second match Oman played we knew they were going to make it to the final and they were gonna win. Actually we didn’t have hope we would qualify from the group but from the second match we knew we would go all the way.
“We qualified number one in the group and that is the mark that said the cup is for us.”
Malik Balushi, also watching, broke away from whooping, singing and dancing to say: “I feel great, I feel incredible. Tonight’s game was intensive. It’s about pride… .
“The penalties were a tough moment but they made me and the whole of Oman happy. Even expats who live in Oman are happy tonight.”
In Qatar, Oman's victory led to major celebrations as people took to the streets to salute the winner.
The Gulf Cup tournament is a moment of coming together after months of division with the Saudi and UAE blockading Qatar over alleged support for extremism. Qatar denies the claims.
"For all the countries in the Gulf, because of what is happening, everyone doesn't want the other countries to win. Politically, the safest team to win is Oman because they are not against anyone, everyone will celebrate," said Hilal al-Hasni, a hospital doctor from Muscat.
مبروك لسلطنة عمان قيادة وشعبا كأس الخليج ٢٣ .. أداء رائع من الشباب العُماني .. ومشاعر راقية رأيناها من اخواننا الشعب العُماني .. ومحبة متبادلة لن تزيدها الأيام الا رسوخًا.. الكأس لعمان .. والفرحة للشعبين الشقيقين.. pic.twitter.com/YmWyBytmC1
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) January 5, 2018
Translation: Congratulations to the Sultanate of Oman, the sultan and the people of Oman for the winning of the 23rd Gulf Cup, the players of Oman did well and the emotions of what we've seen from our brothers in Oman and their love, the days will not add to this except more good feelings. The cup is for Oman, but the happiness for both of us.
“Oman are not the favourites, so they have nothing to lose and there will not be nerves from them at all,” Chuck Martini, head coach of the Muscat Football Academy and former Leicester City and Morocco international goalkeeper, said ahead of the finals.
The tournament has gained in popularity since Al Jazeera began broadcasting it in 2004.
Kuwait have won the competition 10 times, the last time in 2010, and were favourite to win but were knocked out by Oman in the first round. Oman also knocked out Saudi Arabia in a later stage of the tournament.
Saudi Arabia have taken the trophy on three occasions, as have Qatar and Iraq.