LONDON: Football in the Gulf is centre stage now. Qatar ensured that by its acquisition of host rights to the 2022 World Cup finals writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

That has put pressure on both its own football – the national team has reached the last round of 2014 World Cup qualifying – but also on its neighbours.

The United Arab Emirates will compete under a bright spotlight indeed at the London 2012 Olympics in England’s group and Oman missed out only narrowly after losing Monday’s intercontinental play-off against Senegal in Coventry.

Paul Le Guen, the former Lyon and Rangers managers who brought Oman to Coventry, had no complaints about the result. He also acknowledged that Oman had lessons to learn which, though he did not say so, probably apply throughout the Gulf.

He said: “I was proud of the efforts of my players and their behaviour and fighting spirit. We could have qualified but many more of the Senegalese players are used to playing at a high level than our players so the result was logical.

“As for the future of the Oman team, they need to train more intensely, play more and live as professionals. They have improved and are on the right way but it is still not enough.”

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