DOHA: It was heartbreak for the UAE this week as they lost out on a Gulf Cup of Nations semifinal spot after defeat at the hands of hosts Qatar.
2019 Asian Football Confederation Player of the Year Akram Afif scored twice for the Qataris in the 4-2 win over the Emiratis, which saw them seal the second place in Group A and will see them gear up for a huge clash with Saudi Arabia who topped Group B.
Iraq, who meanwhile eked out a 0-0 draw with Yemen, got the top spot in the group and earned them a semi-final clash with surprise semifinalists Bahrain.
Iraq secured a gritty draw with Yemen despite going down to 10 men in the eighth minute after Mustafa Mohammad was sent off for a foul on Ayman Al Hajri.
Despite going down to ten men, Iraq created the better chances and Alaa Mhawi shot just wide in the 22nd minute.
There was another chance for Iraq at the half-hour mark but Ali Faez's free-kick was stopped by Yemen’s Mohammed Ayash while Ahmed Sadeq's shot went wide at the other end four minutes before the break.
Yemen's performance improved in the second period and they thought they had opened the scoring in the 58th minute through a strike from Abdulwasea Al-Matari, but the referee, assisted by VAR, ruled out the goal for a foul on one of the Iraqi players in the buildup.
The Green Falcons, led by Herve Renard, will be looking to make the final at the Gulf Cup for the first time since 2014 — when they lost to Qatar in the showpiece — and for a first win at the tournament since 2004 when they topped the round-robin format to become champions.
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Iraq have three Gulf Cup titles, but have not been victorious in the competition since 1988 when they pipped UAE to the title in the Kingdom, while Bahrain are looking for a maiden win having hosted the tournament four times in 1970, 1986, 1998 and 2013.