SHARJAH, JAN 8 – Oman captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’ promised to continue with the Gulf Cup momentum in the Sultanate team’s opening Group F fixture against Uzbekistan in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 at the Sharjah Stadium on Wednesday.
The match will kick off at 5.30 pm (Oman Time).
“Oman players will for sure want to replicate the Gulf Cup momentum in this Asian showpiece tournament. The triumph at the Gulf Cup will be surely on the back of our mind especially when we start our first match in a big tournament like this,” the Omani midfielder said during the pre-match press conference at the Sharjah Stadium.
Oman head coach Pim Verbeek said the players are fully prepared for the opener.
“It will be an intense game, we are all set for the opening tie against Uzbekistan,” Verbeek said.
“We like to play teams like Uzbekistan, who are very strong. They have won the AFC U-23 Championship in China. So we are prepared to give our best in the crunch game,” the Dutchman said.
Exploring the tactical aspects of the game, Verbeek said, “Uzbekistan play combination football and are also skilful on the ground. They are a difficult team to beat but we have our plans to counter their tactics.”
“We had very good preparation and also the three friendlies before the tournament have given our players enough match experience ahead of the big Asian event,” the Oman coach said.
On the other hand, skipper Ahmed Mubarak said the players have big trust in their coach to guide them through in the Asian Cup.
“We are confident about our coach guiding the players to make good progress for Oman in this major tournament. Oman have a skilful and talented squad. We will put in our best to succeed in the first match,” Ahmed Mubarak said.
‘NO FEAR OF OMAN’
Earlier, Uzbekistan head coach Hector Cuper said his side has no fear of Gulf Cup champions Oman.
“We have no fear of the Omani side which is a good one and had won the latest edition of Gulf Cup,” the Argentine coach said.
“It is up to Oman to prove their worth on the ground tomorrow. We respect all our opponents and Oman are no exception,” Cuper said in response to a question.
The former Egyptian coach said he is not regretting his decision of not playing any friendlies before the tournament.
“It is my decision not to play any friendlies before the tournament. If at all we had played that would have been against those countries playing in the Asian Cup. There is no point in playing against those countries which are not part of the tournament apart from risking injuries to key players also,” the 63-year-old coach said.
Cuper said he can assure of attractive football from his side in the Asian Cup.
“For the past five months, we were working on lot of tactics and method of play. Hopefully we can see many of these in the UAE from our team.”
Uzbekistan midfielder Odil Ahmedov said Oman will miss goalkeeping great Ali al Habsi.
“It is a big advantage to us. Ali is a prolific player and Oman will greatly miss his experience. I think we can take advantage of his absence,” the player said in reply to a query.
Ahmedov said the team had given focus to fitness to come out of their frequent situation of injury concerns before any tournament.