|Metsu says nil-nils are his favourite [AFP]
Qatar coach Bruno Metsu hailed the European style of play as his side drew 0-0 with UAE in their Gulf Cup group B match to leave both in with a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals – while Saudi Arabia sent Yemen home with a 6-0 win.
The Saudis and Emiratis top the group with four points each, although Saudi Arabia have a superior goal difference after their Malik Moad-inspired display left Yemen with no hope of progressing.
Qatar have two points after their two goalless draws but have all to play for against the Yemenis in the last match following their workmanlike performance against the defending champions on Thursday.
While my Qatar gently sleeps
Some matches start badly and then explode into action, while some burn out after a frantic opening.
This match did neither, maintaining a steady torpor that will have the Qatar and UAE defensive coaches rubbing their hands with glee at a job well done.
The Royal Oman Police Station in Wattayah is ringed by craggy hills, and dozens of fans took advantage of the high ground to watch this contest between two fierce rivals expected to go far in this tournament.
It is a marvel they didn't snooze off and tumble from the cliffs en masse.
Qatar shaded it in terms of attacking ambition, but robust defence was the order of the day as referee Mahmoud Gatrifi flashed his yellow at a series of heavy challenges.
Not too sporting
One first-half clash with returning UAE star Ismael Matar saw Qatar's Abdullah Koni stretchered off with a serious injury – while being booed and jeered by a raucous Emirati support.
The demise of an opponent may have been an entertainment highlight in this match.
But as Qatar coach Metsu pointed out, football is not all about swashbuckling attacks. Playing tight can also be an art.
|Qatar's Hussein Yasser checks the spelling on Haidar Ali's shirt [AFP]
"When I see games like Iraq against Bahrain or Iraq against Oman [both heavy defeats for Iraq] I do not enjoy it. It is too easy," the Frenchman said.
"For me, you can see a match in Italy which is 0-0 and it is the best game.
"Football is not only open games with everybody attacking and then running back to defend.
"In the Gulf you like to play with lots of space and lots of attacking. But today you saw a game that was more like Europe."
Qatar attacker Hussein Yasser, who plays for African champions Al Ahly in Egypt, told Al Jazeera that matches between UAE and Qatar had a special atmosphere.
"It's always a big match, it's a derby," said the former Manchester City player.
"It's not an easy game for us or for them.
"But this was like the last game against Saudi Arabia, when we also didn't take our chances.
"We've had the strongest games and now we have a chance to go through against Yemen."
Qatar substitute Marconi Costa proved a star turn after replacing Koni, calmly mopping up attacks from the lively UAE trio of Matar, Mohammed Omar and winger Ismail Alhamadi.
Full back Mesaad Alhamad was lucky to escape with a yellow just before half time after a fierce lunge on the tricky Alhamadi, who was only tripped when a meatier connection could have seen a bad injury.
And minutes later fellow defender Bilal Mohammad also could have been off when a dangerous attack by UAE saw him slide two-footed through the back of Mohammad Alshishi to pick up his second yellow of the tournament and a suspension.
Khalfan Ibrahim was providing the attacking impetus for Qatar with jinking runs down the middle, but some decent balls up to big strikeman Sebastien Soria failed to create any decisive openings.
Too many goals
Yemen had played well in losing 3-1 to UAE in their first match but they succumbed 6-0 to a rampant Saudi Arabia in the late game – a match that Metsu would have been glad to miss.
Yasser Al-Qahtani opened the scoring on four minutes as he fired under the keeper after taking a clever square ball in the box.
|Happy days for Saudi Arabia [AFP]
Malik Moad, whose superb build-up play was responsible for most of his side's goals, added the second seven minutes later as he headed a free kick back across goal and into the far corner.
A jinking run and lay-off from Moad on 18 minutes picked out Abdullah Al-Sheal to slam an unstoppable effort into the net.
And just one minute later, a simple flick from Moad found Ahmad Otaif for a simple finish.
Dancing past three defenders, Ahmaed Almousa made it five before half time with a toe punt into the corner before Yemen clawed back some respectability in the second half.
Yemen's Al Omqy was shown a red card as he was stretchered off following a poor tackle and Moad capped his performance with a bundled effort on 83 minutes.
Saudi Arabia have a plus-six goal difference to top group B over UAE, with plus two.
Group A resumes on Saturday as Oman face Bahrain and Iraq play Kuwait in the decisive matches.