The Gulf Cup tournament favourites from the United Arab Emirates had no issue finding the back of the net on Thursday, destroying the hosts from Qatar 10-0 on the opening day of the tournament.

The Emirates knew they weren’t going to struggle in Doha this weekend, having won the three previous Gulf Cup tournaments. The only Division III World Championship team in the tournament, UAE easily took the 7-1 victory over Qatar two years ago, the first and only previous matchup between the two teams.

Outside of the Gulf Cup, UAE has won three previous gold medals in IIHF action, with two titles at the Challenge Cup of Asia and a lone title at the 2008 Arab Cup. In 2010, the team became the first from an Arab nation to play in IIHF World Championship competition, where the team still currently sits in Division III, the lowest of any division.

Qatar hasn’t been around long in the hockey scene, but they’re quietly making a name for themselves. The country, who are hosting the tournament for the first time, won in just their second ever international game, beating Bahrain 3-0 at the 2014 Desert Cup. They then followed that up with a 7-2 victory over Oman to win their very first medal internationally at the 2014 Gulf Cup (bronze) before beating Macau 2-1 in an invitational event in Hong Kong last September.

The Emirates will play Oman in the early game on Friday, while Qatar will look to survive against a strong Kuwait team, who beat Oman 17-1 earlier on Friday.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

About The Author

Steven took a different route towards his hockey interests. Starting out as a big Habs fan, he started to gravitate towards the more obscure levels of hockey, such as the low level tournaments in Asia, strange club matches between teams most people in North America can’t pronounce, and even some 3am contests between Bulgaria and New Zealand. Aside from his love for strange hockey events, Steven occasionally acts as a mediocre ball hockey goalie following a failed attempt at making it to the NHL as a fourth line house league grinder. Beyond hockey, Steven is an avid racing fan and loves to chat about NASCAR, F1, Indycar, you name it. Oh, and don’t get him started on music. That is, unless you want the whole history of metal and a guitar lesson. Currently, Steven is a credentialed media member with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, as well as with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. Steven has also hosted the television show "The Hockey House" on TVCogeco in Ontario, as well as a segment under the same with on LeafsTV in Toronto. Home page: http://www.thehockeyhouse.net

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