(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman went down to hosts Bahrain 0-2 in the semifinals of the fifth GCC Olympic U23 Football Championship at the National Stadium in Manama on Thursday.
Bahrain will fight for the title on Monday against defending champion Saudi Arabia, which edged out Kuwait 3-2 later in Friday's other semifinal.
Oman will now meet Kuwait on Sunday in a third place playoff match. Saudi Arabia had defeated Bahrain 2-0 for the crown last time in Doha, Qatar.
Bahrain's substitute player Mohammed Khaled and its key midfielder Sayed Ahmed were the two scorers in the match against Oman that was hotly contested.
After a goalless first half, Khaled found the net in the 66th minute just moments after coming on for striker Hamad al Dakheel.
Khaled's strike came from inside the area just outside the six-yard box. He received the ball from fellow striker Abdullah Yousef from the right and then had enough time, partly due to a lazy Omani defence, to take
aim and score past keeper Muhannad al Zaabi.
Ahmed then extended Oman's misery, heading home four minutes from the whistle. He scored after being cleverly picked out by Bahrain captain Isa Ghaleb, who provided a lob from the left. Ahmed rose above his marker Basim al Rajaibi to wrap up Bahrain's win.
Oman's best chance came early in the second half. Ali Salim al Nahar nearly put his team ahead in the 54th minute, but his close-range shot from the right of the area was tipped away by Bahraini keeper Ashraf Waheed.
Bahrain's head coach Anthony Hudson said after the win, "It was a tough match. Oman is a strong side, they posed a lot of problems for us, but I have to give credit to my players. They were tremendous tonight and we are really happy to be in the final."
The Bahrain coach said that after a scoreless first-half, he called on his players to raise their level after the break. ''They responded well. They were determined to make good on their dreams of battling for the championship at home.''