Saturday 17 January 2009

Oman victorious at last

For the last couple of weeks people have been driving around Muscat in cars decorated with Omani flags and red, white and green stickers and as the nation progressed through the various stages of the Gulf Cup being held in Muscat. I spotted one car with the windscreen covered almost completely with posters which the occupant believed still provided sufficient visibility to hurtle along at 120km/hr in absolute safety.

Oman had come second in the last two tournaments and with a new French coach and their keeper, Al Habsi, raised to the level of a super hero, there were high expectations in the final tonight against Saudi Arabia. Entrance to the final was free (do you hear that England?) and all the seats in the Qaboos stadium were full by one o’clock for the 6pm kick-off. The game ended goalless after extra time forcing the competition to be decided on penalties. Fortunately, Saudi’s sixth penalty was blasted wide leaving Oman to slot a splendid strike past the Saudi keeper to take the trophy. There was much rejoicing in the stadium and in the streets until about 1 am.

Three players won prizes of luxurious apartments and companies are tripping over themselves to lavish large sums of money on the team. The star of the show, Ali Al Habsi, won an apartment on the Jabel Sifah building site.

Click here to see the entire game compressed into ten minutes including some rather fine penalties.

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