UAE 3-1 Yemen: Gulf Cup defence begins well
UAE began the defence of their Gulf Cup title in excellent fashion with a comfortable victory over Yemen at Al Shorta Stadium, although both sides ended the Group B encounter with 10 men.
Goals from Mohamed Omar and Ismail Al Hammadi inside the opening quarter of an hour set UAE on their way and Mohamad Saeid Al Shehhi added a third before Fares Juma was sent-off after 68 minutes.
Yemen, who themselves had Mohamad Al Ammari dismissed midway through the first-half, netted a stoppage-time consolation.
Dominique Bathenay's side took the lead with only six minutes gone when skipper Omar was fouled inside the area by Al Ammari and the striker made no mistake from the spot.
UAE then doubled their lead after 14 minutes. Al Hammadi and Al Shehhi played a neat one-two before the latter scored from close range.
Yemen's problems increased in the 31st minute when Al Ammari picked up his second booking of the game as they went in at the break 2-0 down.
UAE kept their foot on the gas in the second-half and added a third goal after 66 minutes when Al Shehhi latched onto a long pass from the back and fired a powerful right-foot effort from inside the area that found the back of the net.
Two minutes later, however, UAE were also down to 10 men when Juma received a second yellow card.
Yemen pressed forward as the game drew to a close and were rewarded with a consolation effort in the first minute of stoppage time when Ala'a Al Sassi beat three UAE defenders inside the box before feeding Ali Al Nono, who finished from close range.
Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam has called for the Gulf Cup to be held every four years in order for the competition to receive official recognition.
The regional showpiece, currently taking place in Oman, is a biennial tournament and as such is not recognised by either the AFC or FIFA.
Clubs would therefore be within their rights not to release players for another competition in what is already a crowded footballing calendar.
Bin Hammam believes that moving it to a four-year cycle would not only benefit players but also ensure a higher standard of competition.
"The Gulf Cup is an important tournament that has led to improvement of the game in the region," he said.
"We suggested that it could be held every four years because we have professional league competitions in the continent and the players have many obligations with their clubs in domestic and continental competitions.
"Many players of the teams participating are playing as professionals outside their countries and the clubs have the right not to release them but if the tournament is held every four years, that will help the players to be released by the clubs in particular as the tournament is not yet sanctioned by either the AFC or FIFA."