Asain Cup: Gulf Cup champions curse looks set to strike again

Qatar have it all to do in Thursday`s Asian Cup clash against Iran in Sydney if they are to prevent the curse of the Gulf Cup champions striking once again.

Reuters| Last Updated: Jan 13, 2015, 10:46 AM IST
Asain Cup: Gulf Cup champions curse looks set to strike again

Sydney: Qatar have it all to do in Thursday`s Asian Cup clash against Iran in Sydney if they are to prevent the curse of the Gulf Cup champions striking once again.

No side have managed to follow up a Gulf Cup title with victory in Asia`s biggest tournament, with Qatar the 12th team to attempt the feat.

A 4-1 loss to United Arab Emirates on Sunday, coupled with the loss of key defender Bilal Mohammed for the remainder of the tournament, leave them odds on to be the fourth consecutive Gulf champions to exit the Asian Cup at the group stage.

Only Kuwait have managed to make some kind of headway after winning the Gulf Cup, reaching the knockout stages of the Asian Cup on three occasions after winning the biennial tournament.

At the 1976 Asian Cup, the Kuwaitis reached the final of the then six-team tournament in Iran but were beaten by the hosts 1-0 in Tehran.

In 1996, they were fourth, and they made the quarter-finals four years later, but like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iraq they are still waiting to double up.

Iraq`s golden generation of the 1980s never managed to attempt the double with the `Lions of Mesopotamia` not competing in four Asian Cups from 1980.

Three-times Asian champions Saudi Arabia finished bottom of their group in 2004 after lifting the Gulf Cup the previous year, with the UAE also making a first round exit in 2007 following the regional triumph.

Kuwait made it 10 titles at the Gulf Cup in December 2010 but could only manage three defeats a month later at the Asian Cup in Qatar as they slumped out.

Fatigue perhaps or pressure to deliver? 

It is unclear what the reason is, but Qatar were meant to be different at this Asian Cup.

Just one defeat in 2014 and their impressive Gulf Cup triumph in Saudi Arabia last month had them labelled as dark horses in Australia.

Algerian head coach Djamel Belmadi has won praise for his team`s style, with attacking verve provided by Khalfan Ibrahim and Hasan and the defensive stability brought by Bilal and goalkeeper Qasem Burhan helping them go 11 games unbeaten. 

However, they froze on Sunday, with their backline, shorn of Bilal, continually ripped apart and Qasem tossing in numerous errors to help inflate the scoreline.

Next up is Iran, who beat Bahrain 2-0 in their Group C opener. Defeat for Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, would likely result in the Gulf Cup curse claiming another victim.