Regional rivals Qatar and UAE to compete for Gulf Cup semi-final place

©Al-Araby Al-Jadeed

Gulf Cup hosts Qatar will play its regional rival the UAE on Monday, in a football championship that has already seen Abu Dhabi partially break its political embargoon Doha.

The clash is due to take place at 5:30pm local time at the 40,000 seater Khalifa International Stadium in the Qatari capital, and will decide which team makes it through to the semi-finals.

The Group A teams both beat Yemen earlier in the tournament but lost to Iraq, who are already through to the semi-finals, even if they lose to Yemen today.

Qatar go into the match with the advantage, knowing that a draw will see them progress to the next round of the Gulf Cupon goal difference. The UAE need to win the match to keep their Gulf Cup hopes alive.

The match has particular significance as the UAE is one of the parties that have enacted an embargo on Qatar over regional differences.

In June 2017, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt launched an overnight blockade on Qatar and cut political ties.

The two other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) - Oman and Kuwait - both remained neutral in the crisis, but both have to some degree tried to end the rift.

Late last month, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain agreed to take part in the football tournament in Doha - which includes the six GCC members plus Iraq and Yemen - to the surprise of many commentators.

Although Saudi Arabia flew direct to Doha - thus breaking their own blockade on Qatar - the UAE opted for an indirect route, via Kuwait.

At the AFC Asian Cup held in the UAE earlier this year, the semi-final between the Emirates and Qatar saw the visiting team pelted with shoes and booed.

Qatar went on to life the Asian Cup, but UAE officials present largely boycotted the winning team.

The Gulf crisis prevented Qatari fansfrom watching their team due to a travel ban by the UAE.

Sports journalists from Qatar were also banned from entering the UAE.

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