Resilient Mirbat return to OPL

By Jaber Al Ajmi — MUSCAT: May 29 – Mirbat are back to Omantel Professional League (OPL) after more than 20 years of absence, as they drew with Al Khabourah 1-1 in the second leg of promotion play-offs, thanks to their 1-0 victory in the first leg. The Salalah side now joined First Division champions Al Mudhaibi and runner-ups Al Salam to play in the OPL next season while Al Khabourah were relegated to the First Division League along with Jalaan and Al Rustaq.
“Inspiring younger players by giving them the trust, bringing professional & experienced players to their spirit, were the most two important things that helped me to return Mirbat to OPL.” Mirbat Manager, Akram Habrish said. In the second leg game, which was played at Sohar Stadium, Mirbat’s captain Zehdi Fayel equalised in the 51st minute for Mirbat after they were trailing 1-0 in the first half. Al Khabourah, who were eyeing more than two goals to secure their stay in OPL, started the game with an attacking line up, engaging the three attacking players Noah Wael, Said al Gidani and Said Obaid.

Mirbat and Al Khabourah players slug it out during their Omantel Professional League (OPL) promotion play-off second leg match on Sunday. — Pictures by Ahmed al Buriki

The strategy of Al Khabourah’s manager Naser al Hajri succeeded immediately as Noah Wael gave them the lead in the first five minutes. Al Khabourah then wasted a lot of golden chances before they were hard done in the second half as Mirbat equalised in the 51st minute and Al Khabourah’s task became very difficult, as they needed to score two more goals in order to secure promotion.
“I knew that Al Khabourah would start the game in an attacking form and for that I started with a strong defence formation.’’ Akram Habrish said.
“I asked my men for patience and calmness after we conceded the goal as I was sure we can score as we did against Nizwa and Al Seeb when we came back from behind to win the games.”
The ex-Oman National team player Akram Habrish coached Mirbat in five games only, helping Mirbat to win against Nizwa and Al Seeb in the final two games of the First Division League, and then overcoming Al Khabourah in the promotion play-offs to be amongst the best Omani teams next season.
“I thank club management led by Shaikh Haitham al Amri for their trust, my colleagues & players for their hard work, and all fans for supporting us to make the dream of returning to the OPL true.” Akram Habrish added.
The last time Mirbat played in Omantel Profesional League was in 1995/1996 season when it was named as the First Omani League.