ABU DHABI – The United Arab Emirates proved once again that they’re the best team in Gulf Region, defeating Kuwait 3-1 to defend the Gulf Cup title, an invitational tournament for national teams from the Middle East.
The tournament was staged for the second time after the 2010 edition in Kuwait and also involved selections from Bahrain and Oman.
Juma Al Daheri was the hero for the host nation at the Zayed Sports City ice rink in Abu Dhabi with a pair of goals.
“It was a sweet victory because it was achieved against a good team,” Al Daheri told the Gulf News. “Anything could have happened in the match because Kuwait has improved greatly in the past two months. I am happy to say that they will have a glorious future in the region and the continent.”
Already in the preliminary round it was a tight and heated clash between the teams as the Emirates needed a shootout to defeat Kuwait 3-2.
The Kuwaiti improved their program with the recommendations from the IIHF in a similar way the UAE did before by founding a national league and youth development programs for about 100 boys and 50 girls.
The United Arab Emirates had easier wins against Oman, 8-1, and Bahrain, 15-0. But Al Daheri also praises these teams.
“I am happy to see the determination and keenness of the youngsters in other teams, especially in Oman and Bahrain, trying to do their best despite the big differences between them and those of the UAE and Kuwait,” he said. “I believe they will learn fast and progress.”
For the UAE it’s the second tournament win this season after succeeding in the 2012 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia in India.
Oman won its first-ever international game in a 3-1 victory over Bahrain for third place in the tournament. The country has two teams with Omani players and an expat team with players from Canada and Europe.
“We are happy and excited. It was only our second participation in a tournament outside of Oman and we will return with a medal,” said Jehad Al Shaikh, the head of Oman’s delegation. “This will surely help us in our quest to establish an official body for the sport in our country upon return.”
For the winning Emiratis, the season is over now and their Belarusian coach Yuri Faikov will start the preparation for next season after Ramadan in September. It will be the season the men’s national team returns to the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program by hosting the Division III Qualification in Abu Dhabi. And for the first time ever, an Emirati U20 national team will compete.