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Kuwait and Iraq square off for semis berth

KUWAIT and Iraq face off today for a berth in the semi-finals of the 21st Gulf Cup.

Both teams won their opening group 'B' fixtures last Sunday, and with a win in their second game can ensure their spot in the final four.

Neither team can be favoured over the other in this exciting clash, as both sides showed fine form in their previous games.

Kuwait missed a handful of opportunities in their 2-0 win against Yemen but are the defending champions and cannot be discounted in any game.

Iraq, meanwhile, showed great resilience in their impressive win against Gulf Cup heavyweights Saudi Arabia, also with a 2-0 result.

Kuwait will once again be relying on the likes of Bader Al Mutawa and Yousef Al Salman to lead them to victory. Both players were on target for the Kuwaitis in their first match.

Iraq will be hoping for the best from Salam Shakir, Ahmed Yaseen and inspirational captain Younes Mahmoud, who is one of the stars to look out for in the tournament.

Shakir netted one of Iraq's goals in their win over Saudi. The other was an unfortunate own goal from their rivals.

Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic commented of today's game: "Iraq will be another tough match for us.

"But the team spirit and energy we showed when we beat Yemen is a strong motivator for our players to go forward and get another result."

On his part, Iraq head coach said: "It is an important game because both teams are battling for top position in the group.

"Kuwait has a very strong and distinguished team with a prestigious history in this competition. We have to work realistically against them and with confidence in order to meet the expectations of our fans."

Kuwait and Iraq face off at the Shaikh Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town. Kick-off is at 4.15pm.

In today's other fixture scheduled for a 7.15pm start, Saudi and Yemen will be looking to bounce back from their earlier setbacks when they go head to head.

Saudi are highly favoured in the fixture, but coach Frank Rijkaard admits that they cannot take anything for granted in the game.

"We need the support of everyone to achieve our goals," Rijkaard said.

Yemen coach Tom Saintfeit commented: "I'm confident our players will fight with a courageous heart, but they need some luck to get the job done."



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