17 January 2009 – Behind Any Title-Winning Team, There’s A Great Goalkeeper

On 17 January 2009, Oman won their first Gulf Cup of Nations, beating Saudi Arabia on penalties.

It was the third consecutive appearance in the final for Oman, who lost to Qatar on penalties in 2004 and to the United Arab Emirates in 2007. Omani keeper Ali Al Habsi starred in both of those tournaments, however, and received two Best Goalkeeper awards to go along with the one he won in 2003 when Oman finished fourth.

Al Habsi continued to shine in 2009 as Oman kept a clean sheet all the way up to the final. There, they met Saudi Arabia, who--playing in front of keeper Waleed Abdullah--had similarly not given up a goal for the entire tournament. Although Oman controlled the run of play for most of the final, the defenses proved too resolute as the teams completed 120 minutes with a scoreless draw to set up the decisive shootout.

After five kicks each, the teams were level at 5-5. Then Saudi Arabian midfielder Taisir Al Jassim sent his shot wide. The miss opened the door for Oman's Mohamad Rabih, who calmly beat Abdullah to claim the cup. For his part in the victorious campaign, Al Habsi won his fourth straight Best Goalkeeper award.

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