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.
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