Oman national team manager Pim Verbeek is expected to come back to his favourite 4-2-3-1 system against Bahrain when they meet on January 2, in the semifinal of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup in Kuwait. It kicks off at 6.30 pm (Oman Time) at Jaber International Stadium. The other semifinal fixture between UAE and Iraq will kick off at 9.30 pm (Oman Time) at the same stadium. The Dutchmen did not allow the press to attend the last training session held on January 1, but according to the December 31st training session, he is expected to start Bahrain thriller with same starting XI he used against the UAE and Kuwait.
It is always an exciting game when Oman and Bahrain face off because they share same quality of players and style of play. They only have a very small difference in this tournament as Oman have a strong defence line while Bahrain are more energetic with regard to an attacking midfield side. Bahrain’s game is strong defence and rely on fast counter-attacks. So Verbeek is less likely to give space for them in order to execute their game plan. Mohsen Jawhar might recall his place in the starting eleven as number 10 role, instead of striker Abdulaziz al Muqbali who started against Saudi Arabia but got injured by the end of the first half.
I saw all Bahrain games, they are well organised in the defence and very good in counter-attack. They wont allow you to score as we saw in the past three games. I analysed their strengths and weaknesses, but I trust my men to overcome them to reach the final. We are fully ready
■ PIM VERbeek
■ Oman head coach
Bahrain coach Miroslav Soukup said they came to Kuwait to give Bahraini fans the first trophy of the Arabian Gulf Cup. We are here to live the Bahrain dream which is winning the title, so we are playing accordingly. We have the support of our fans which will push us to give our best
■ Miroslav Soukup
■ Bahrain head coach
Jaber al Ajmi