Sunday, 14 November 2010

We are not afraid of playing in Yemen, say Gulf football teams

Source: Gulf daily, By SANDEEP SINGH GREWAL, 15/11/2010
A TOP Bahraini football official yesterday said he had no fears about competing in Yemen, where the 20th GCC Cup kicks off next week.

It follows a spate of violence including a bombing near the headquarters of the ruling party last Thursday - in the same province where some of the games will be played. That incident happened near the headquarters of the General People's Congress in the town of Lawdar, in the Abyan province, but media reports suggested nobody was hurt.

There have been clashes between the Yemen government and militants in Abyan, where a campaign was launched against Al Qaeda operatives suspected of being behind a foiled parcel bomb plot last month.

Gunmen also attacked a military checkpoint outside the southern city of Dalea on Thursday, while demonstrators tried to break into a jail to protest against a southern separatist leader's arrest.

However, Bahrain team manager Abdulrazzaq Mohammed said he had been reassured that players, teams and fans would be safe.

He told the GDN that a special joint Gulf security committee had been set up to monitor the situation, while teams have also been sent to inspect stadiums and facilities for players, missions and other visitors in the provinces of Aden and Abyan.

"The Bahrain Football Association has given us a green light to go ahead and participate in the event after being reassured of all security measures," he said.

A 37-member delegation, including 23 players, is expected to leave on Saturday to Aden.

A separate Bahrain delegation, comprising other officials, will join with the national squad.

The tournament will run from next Monday until December 5 and will be contested by Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Yemen.

Mr Mohammed said Yemen would be responsible for the Bahrain team's security arrangements.

"The Bahrain Football Association considered all the safety measures and then took a final decision to go ahead with its plans to send our players to compete for the championship," he said.

"We are ready to compete and no player from the national squad has complained of any issues related to the championship."

The eight teams are divided in two groups, with Bahrain placed in Group B alongside Oman, Iraq and the UAE.

Yemen and Bahrain have not won the championship, although Bahrain and Saudi Arabia secured joint second place in 1992.

Kuwait has won the championship nine times since the first Gulf Cup was held in Bahrain in 1970.

Yemen maintains there should be no security concerns in the build up to the tournament, with Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al Qirbi saying last month that his country was determined to host the championship - assuring the safety of participating teams.

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