The man, who helped Bahrain achieve their decades long goal of winning the Gulf Cup was given a fitting tribute by his players soon after the Red won their maiden title beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on Sunday.
Bahrain’s Portuguese coach Helio Sousa was left surprised when soon after the match as he was settling down to address the media with his coaching staff, the players stormed in and cheered aloud for the coach and left soon.
It was indeed a miracle of sorts that Sousa had done with a bunch of upcoming players. Sousa who saw Bahrain achieve their maiden title in nearly 50 years since their first participation in the Gulf Cup championships, had also pulled a rabbit out of the hat of sorts by choosing an entirely new first eleven from his squad of 23 for the final.
Notably, the coach, who is also 50-years-old, summed up the delight saying, “It is a great day in the history of Bahraini football that deserves to be celebrated. “This day is the culmination of the tremendous work that we started – to create a team that can compete for titles, a work we started about five months ago. We have fighter players in every match. It is a unique moment that deserved to be proud of. We now set our sights on the month of March, where the Asian qualifiers await us.”
On the secret to his and his team’s success, Sousa said, “We worked inside an integrated system. So far we have won two championships –West Asia in Iraq, and the 24th Gulf Cup in Qatar. The Saudi team that we faced in the final had started modestly in the initial matches but soon gained momentum in the later stages.
“We succeeded today because we believed in the capabilities of our players, and we gave them full confidence to present their best. I came from Portugal, here to take on such challenges. We worked to compete for the championships. This vision was not trusted by those around us. We played against a group of the most prominent teams on the continent and achieved two important titles. I think everyone is a believer in this team and the players who made history,” he stressed.
Regarding what was being described as Sousa’s “gamble” by changing the team’s line-up in every match as what he did against Saudi Arabia, the coach said: “It is not gambling, gambling is in the casino (he joked). I believe in all the players, 23 players. Each of them was able to perform as he should, and this is what we have proven. We spent a lot of time building this team. I have players who are no less important than those who are here, but didn’t get a chance to play.
He concluded: “I congratulate the Bahraini people on this achievement. I congratulate our players on this heroic performance. Our goal is to continue to achieve good results and to find our way in the double qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar and Asian Cup 2023.”
© Copyright Qatar Tribune. All Rights Reserved.