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Bahrain end on a high as regional decider looms


Al Ram: Bahrain beat Qatar 3-2 on Thursday to end their 2019 WAFF U-18 Championship campaign with a win as the fifth-place play-off served as a curtain raiser to Friday’s final between Iraq and United Arab Emirates.

5TH PLACE: QATAR 2-3 BAHRAIN

Bahrain ended their week in Palestine with a win, scoring three second-half goals to finish the inaugural championship with a 3-2 success against Qatar at Faisal Al Husseini Stadium.

Having scored just once in over 225 minutes of football in the tournament, Bahrain netted three times in less than half an hour through Abdulrahman Mohamed, Ali Khalifa Al Doseri and Mubarak Habib to secure a parting victory.

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Qatar started strongly and led at half-time thanks to Abdulla Ismail Al Ali’s excellent ninth minute opener, but Bahrain equalised just after the interval before well and truly going on with the job.

Mohamed headed them level in the 47th minute, before a simple long-ball and header unlocked the Qatari defence nine minutes later, allowing Al Doseri to beat Mohamed Al Ashwal one-on-one and put his side ahead.

Osamah Al Tairi brought Qatar level with a near-immediate reply to make it 2-2, but substitute Habib squeezed a free-kick past Al Ashwal with 18 minutes remaining to seal Bahrain’s victory.

Iraq, UAE prepare to face off in final

All eyes will be on Faisal Al Husseini Stadium once again on Friday, as Iraq and UAE prepare to face off in the first ever WAFF U-18 Championship Final.

UAE’s 4-2 win over Iraq in their Group B meeting last Saturday makes them marginal favourites in the decider, although that match accounts for the Emiratis’ only win and all four of their goals in the tournament so far, with their remaining fixtures ending in scoreless draws.

While the UAE sealed their passage to the semi-finals at the earliest possible opportunity, Iraq’s poor start meant they have had to improve as the tournament has progressed, advancing to the knockout stage with a 2-1 win against Bahrain before beating Jordan on penalties after a 1-1 semi-final draw.

In a tournament where accuracy from the penalty spot has often been a key determinant of success, the goals from both sides’ top scorers have come from 12 yards.

Iraq’s Abdulrazzaq Kadah scored from the spot against both UAE and Jordan, finding the back of the net once again against the latter to close out the semi-final shootout, while Ahmed Al Hammadi’s two goals both came from penalties against Iraq.

Another player to catch the eye in Al Ram has been UAE’s Hazza Al Njeibi, who made a significant impact as a substitute to win both penalties against Iraq before being promoted to the first team for the semi-final against Palestine.

The WAFF U-18 Championship serves as key preparation for November’s AFC U-19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers, where 46 teams will vie for a place in the Continental Finals.

Friday’s fixtures (all times local): Third place play-off – Jordan v Palestine (16:00), Final – Iraq v UAE (19:30).

Photos: Palestine Football Association

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