For the first time since 2004, most of the Omani fans are sceptical about the national team’s chances in the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup. At the same time, the fans agreed that the tournament has often defied the technical and tactical criteria and psychological advantage proved handy on many occasions. Around 70 per cent of the fans who voted in a Twitter poll by Oman Daily Observer opined that Oman will not go past the group stage, while only 11 per cent were confident that the team will win the title. More than 1,500 users voted in the poll about Oman’s chances in the competition.
The Red Warriors are placed in Group A, which includes hosts Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Oman Daily Observer has taken views of some football professionals about Oman’s chances in the competition and how far the national team can reach.
Al Mudhaibi’s tactician manager Anwar al Habsi said: “We can say all teams in our group have similar level, but the UAE have advantage over the rest. Most probably UAE and Oman will advance to the semifinals.”
“It’s so common to notice variations in the technical choices in any selection. However, I have to admit that the current selection is the best available pick.
“Our game with Yemen gave us a few glimpses of the style Verbeek may depend on in our first fixture against the UAE, and I see it quite suitable to our capabilities,” Anwar said.
Abdullah al Balushi, former player of Sohar Club, doesn’t think Oman will qualify from the group stage.
“I assume it’s going to be a very tough participation. This Oman team looks like making a very limited impact as we are missing many strong points.”
“The national team won’t be going far in the tournament but still, it’s an opportunity for the OFA to review the team, especially evaluating the technical team.”
Verbeek has very limited options to choose from, those are the same players who played in the AFC qualifiers as well took part in the external and the internal camps since he joined the team.
Football pundit Mohammed al Asmi agrees that Oman national team is not in a good shape, but he still thinks they can progress due to certain circumstances.
“Gulf Cup is not like any other tournaments as we saw in the previous editions. It doesn’t depend much on the physical preparation as it depends on the mindset of the champions, and we have this mindset because we won the title in 2009 and reached advanced stages in the following versions. I see that the chances are very even between all the teams.”
“The team is missing players like Mohammed al Shaiba, Mohammed al Ghassani and Eid al Farsi, who impact very positively with their presence in the national team.”
“There was no balance between the defence and the attack which was witnessed during the game against Yemen. One of the issues that face our team is that they don’t deal with direct attacking game. They like to share passes in the back which reduce the number of chances in front,” he added.
Ahmed al Asmi, media anchor, sees remote chances for Oman.
He said: “We have played many matches (AFC qualifiers) compared to the rest, but still are lacking an overall improvement.”
“We have a chance to reach the semifinals because Kuwait team is coming from a long absence and the Saudi team will not be the first eleven. In my opinion, UAE are the favourites to win the title.”
“Oman’s performance against Yemen was disappointing and failed to provide any boost to the Gulf Cup campaign.”
Jaber Al Ajmi