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Football

Late goal takes UAE into Gulf Cup final

Defending champions Kuwait are knocked out of the competition by the UAE as winless Qatar sack their manager.
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2013 17:05
Kuwait players watch on as Khalil scores in the final minute of regular time to put the UAE into final [Reuters]

Ahmad Khalil scored a last-gasp goal to guide the United Arab Emirates into the final of the Gulf Cup with a 1-0 victory over defending champions Kuwait on Tuesday.

The all-important goal came seconds into the final minute of regular time when the never-say-die Omar Abdulrahman initiated a move inches outside the penalty area on the left and sent Abdulaziz Sanqor through with a well-timed diagonal pass.

Sanqor did well to beat his marker Mohammed Frieh and send a cross past the face of the goal to Khalil, who jabbed the ball low and to the right of Kuwait goalkeeper Nawaf al-Khaldi.

It was Khalil's third goal of the championships and the UAE stands, packed with fans especially flown in by 21 chartered planes, went wild.

The UAE, whose previous Gulf Cup victory came in 2007, will take on the winner of the second semi-final between Bahrain and former Asian champions Iraq in the final on Friday.

The first semi-final was a match of two equal halves with the UAE dominating the first and 11-time champions Kuwait the second.

Both teams came close to scoring, with the UAE's best chance coming in the 60th minute when a long-range free-kick by Khamis Ismael struck the crossbar and bounced back twice off the shoulder of Kuwait goalkeeper Khaldi.

Nine minutes later it was a close shave for Khaldi's Emirati counterpart Ali Khaseif as Fahad al-Ansari, Bader al-Mutwa and Hussain Hakem all had their close shots saved, the Emirati defence just managing to scramble the ball clear.

Kuwait had another chance in the 86th minute when second-half substitute Fahad al-Enezi covered the length of the ground but could not shake off his markers and his move went abegging.

Aftermath 

Qatar fired coach Paulo Autuori on Tuesday after the team crashed out of the Gulf Cup without winning a match.

The Qatar Football Association announced that Autuori's assistant Fahad Thani will take charge on a permanent basis.

Autuori, who coached Peru and Sao Paulo among clubs in his native Brazil, was Qatar's third coach in three years.

Thani's immediate task will be guiding Qatar to the 2014 World Cup. The team is tied with two others in second place in Asia Group A and plays South Korea next on March 26.

Qatar, who are hosting the 2022 World Cup, have never qualified for the World Cup and are under pressure to improve their performance.

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