MUSCAT, MARCH 18 –
Oman’s hockey mainstay Basim Khatar Rajab has been elevated to the ‘superstar’ status after winning the player of the tournament award at the Asian Games Qualifiers.
The player with 85 caps for Oman sizzled in the March 8-17 tournament with five goals and powered the Sultanate to their first title in the Qualifiers.
“The title is very sweet as it comes in front of the home crowd. I am so happy for Oman hockey,” the midfield player said after Oman’s 2-0 win against Bangladesh in the final.
The 30-year-old converted a crucial penalty stroke in the final too as Oman capped their great run in the tournament with the title.
In the five matches Oman played in the tournament, Basim scored two field goals, two penalty corner goals and netted one from penalty stroke.
Arguably the complete player in the Qualifiers, Basim was Oman’s spearhead in most of the matches by scoring crucial goals, providing assists and gaining penalty corners. The player, who made his international debut in December 2012 in the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha, was very handy in Oman defence too. This was evident in the final when Bangladesh could not convert a single penalty corners from nine that came their way.
Basim’s ‘pumped-up’ attitude instilled new vigour in his teammates as Oman played a ‘champions’ game.
“I think I have improved a lot from my earlier days, especially in the penalty corners. Our new coach Tahir Zaman has been really inspiring and helped me to brush up my skills greatly,” the penalty corner specialist told Oman Daily Observer.
The player is eager to continue the form in the Asian Games in Jakarta in August and hopes Oman better their status in the Asian level.
“We hope to continue our good performance and make some good improvement in the Asian level,” he said.
Oman head coach Tahir Zaman was satisfied with his players’ performance in the tournament that gave him the first silverware after taking charge in December.
“Our team has achieved the target and it was really nice to emerge champions at home,” the Pakistan great said. “The boys got better and better from the first match and in the final, we saw a composed performance from Oman.” Talking about Asian Games, Zaman said “it will be a great opportunity for the players to prove themselves at the Asian level.”
“No to mention the exposure and experience also,” he said.
Oman will also play in the Asian Champions Trophy in October as the hosts. Chief guest for the final, Dr Fuad bin Jaafar al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, was elated after Oman’s first success in Qualifiers.
“It is a great win for Oman hockey. Hope the team continues to corner more glories in the coming period as well. Our full support will be there for the players,” the minister, a former hockey player, said.
Oman Hockey Association (OHA) Chairman Talib al Wahaibi was also equally elated.
“We have achieved our goal. I’m really happy for the players and Oman hockey. We will continue to work hard and raise the profile of the Sultanate in the game internationally,” Talib said.
Meanwhile, losing final lists Bangladesh, were left ruing over some umpiring decisions.
“Some umpiring decisions were clearly against us and cost us dear. We had scored one goal and it was disallowed. The ball actually hit and Omani player’s leg. So that was not fair, Bangladesh head coach Harun Mahbub said. Bangladesh, 30, is ranked above Oman (32) but the hosts clearly called the shots in the title-decider.
“We could not capitalise on the nine penalty corners we got. We were very poor on this aspect.”
“We need to rectify these mistakes before the Asian Games and I hope that Bangladesh can be impressive in Jakarta,” Mahbub said.
MUSCAT, MARCH 18 –