On Monday, Basra International Stadium will host the semi-final match between the Iraqi national team – the owner of the land – and its Qatari counterpart in the semi-final round in the 25th Gulf Cup. The Omani national team will also face its Bahraini counterpart, aspiring to defend the championship title, at the Olympic Port Stadium.
Iraq will try to take advantage of the ground and public factors to overtake Qatar and reserve its place in the final match.
Iraq qualified for the semi-finals after topping the first group, while Qatar reached this role after a draw with the UAE in the final minutes of the exciting match that brought them together in the second group.
Iraq won seven matches in the history of confrontations with Qatar, against a loss and three draws.
The Iraqi fans are eager to see the “Lions of Mesopotamia” team crowned with the Gulf title, after a long absence since the ninth edition, which was held in 1988 in Saudi Arabia.
This is the first time that Iraq has hosted the tournament since it hosted the fifth edition in 1979.
Jesus Casas, Iraq’s Spanish coach, said: “So far, we have come an important distance, and we must continue the journey to reach the final match.”
Casas added, “A tough match awaits us against Qatar, but we don’t care whether it is Qatar or another team,” according to what was reported by Agence France-Presse.
Iraqi defender Mustafa Nazim stressed that his country’s national team has “the advantage against Qatar because we are playing this difficult match in front of our large fans and on our land.”
As for the Portuguese “Al-Annabi” coach, Bruno Miguel Pinheiro, he expressed his team’s readiness to meet Iraq, realizing the great influence of the “Lions of Mesopotamia” fans.
He said, “There are many fans behind the Iraqi national team. We try not to be affected by that and not to be in a negative atmosphere in the match. We have young players who can prove their worth as a strong team, and we do not fear the Iraqi national team.”
For his part, the captain of the Qatari team, Ismail Mohammed, considered that the large presence of the Iraqi fans would motivate the Qatari players as well, as he put it, but at the same time he acknowledged the difficulty of the confrontation.
The second match between Bahrain and Oman was moved to the Olympic Port Stadium instead of the Basra International Stadium, after the latter’s floor was affected during the Qatar-Saudi Arabia match, as a result of the heavy rains that fell in Basra for 24 continuous hours.
Bahrain, the defending champion, topped Group Two with seven points, after two victories over the UAE and Qatar and a draw against Kuwait
“Bahrain is fully prepared for this confrontation, and we aspire to achieve a positive result that will put us in the final,” the Portuguese coach of Bahrain, Helio Souza, was quoted by Agence France-Presse on the eve of the expected match against Oman.
And he stressed that it is the small details that will decide the confrontation due to the strength of the two teams.
The Omani team ranked second in the first group, after a negative draw with host Iraq in its first match, and its victory over Yemen, then Saudi Arabia.
Oman is participating for the twenty-third time in the championship, and has two titles in its balance.
Oman won its first title in 2009 after defeating Saudi Arabia on penalties, and the second in 2018 by defeating the UAE on penalties as well.