Dubai: The UAE will kick off their campaign in the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup with a group match against Yemen on November 26. The eight-team biennial event will be held in Doha from November 26-December 8 this year.
The organisers had revised their draw on Thursday after Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain reversed decisions to skip the tournament earlier this week. ‘The Whites,’ under the guidance of Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk, are in Group A alongwith Yemen, Iraq and the hosts Qatar while Group comprises of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
UAE then take on Iraq on November 29, followed by the match against Qatar on December 2. The format will have the top two finishers from each group locking horns in the semi-finals on December 5 with the final scheduled on December 8. Asian Cup champions Qatar, meanwhile, will set the ball rolling against Iraq.
The UAE have won the Gulf Cup twice before, first in 2007 when they defeated Oman 1-0 in the final on home soil. Ismail Mattar, the tournament’s top scorer, notched the winner at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.
The national team clinched the trophy against six years later in Bahrain, triumphing in extra-time against Iraq in the showpiece. Abdulrahman scored a memorable opener to give Mahdi Ali’s side the lead, but Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud equalised nine minutes from time.
However, substitute Ismail Al Hammadi struck in the second half of extra-time to seal a second Gulf Cup for the UAE.
The December 11-21 Club World Cup kicks off in Doha after that on two stadiums being used at the 2022 World Cup.