Muscat, JAN 6 – When the Arabian Gulf Cup began hopes were not too high on Oman lifting the highly coveted trophy but how things have turned around. The preparations for the tournament began with friendlies against Palestine and Yemen and they were not too forthcoming in terms of performance. When the first game against UAE ended in a 1-0 defeat, the critics were up in arms and started expressing their scepticism about the chances of the ‘Red Warriors’.
The frontline players like Abdulaziz al Muqbali, Khalid al Hajri, Jamil al Yahmadi and Mohsen Jowhar were struggling to convert their chances in the first game.
Coach Pim Verbeek certainly had a lot of work to do.
One of the striking aspects of this Oman squad is the resilience and doggedness that it is capable of showing. It became evident as the tournament progressed.
The defence was water-tight and need we say more about the magnificent efforts of Fayez al Rushaidi.
The 29-year-old has been the find of the tournament as far as Oman is concerned and their indisputable future star.
With stellar efforts against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in the group stage matches, Fayez was the rock of the Oman defence rallying the rest of the defenders around him.
The tall man epitomised strength and resoluteness and that symbolised Oman’s character throughout this triumphant campaign at the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup.
Oman have certainly unearthed some emerging players for their future and the likes of Fayez and Khalid al Hajiri are right up there.
The quality of football in the GCC region is of a reasonably high standard and there are some players with tremendous amount of skill and flair, so for Oman to come through and clinch the title in such a scenario is quite an amazing achievement.
Oman are in good stead going forward and will need a similar resolve and effort to bring more Cups to their beloved fans.