Upbeat Verbeek looks to top group

MUSCAT, March 26: Arabian Gulf Cup champions Oman will return to action when they take on Palestine in their last match of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Group D qualifying in Muscat on Tuesday.
The match will kick off at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher at 7 pm.
“This is the first match after our Gulf Cup triumph and we are prepared to give our best for this important match,” Oman head coach Pim Verbeek said at the pre-match press conference.
Both the countries have already sealed their qualification to the next year’s finals in the United Arab Emirates from Group D.
The match will decide the group winners and Oman are keen to take that spot.
“We are focusing to win the match and top the group,” said the Dutchman.
Palestine lead the group by three points from the Omanis after securing a 2-1 win in Al Ram in June 2017 and Verbeek will be looking to avenge that defeat ahead of the tournament draw in Dubai on May 4.
“Our preparations were similar to the Gulf Cup and I am happy with the available squad,” he said.
Only major omission from Oman’s Gulf Cup winning squad is the attacking midfielder Hareb al Saadi, who is out with a knee injury.
Hareb is currently playing with UAE club Al Jazira.
“The training camp was good. The players are in good shape and we had some young players also in the 26-member camp.”
“The presence of youngsters will give a fresh energy to the squad as we are looking forward to the Asian Cup finals,” the former coach of Australia and South Korea said, adding that he will select the best available squad for the Palestine match.
Oman captain Ahmed Mubarak Kanu said the Gulf Cup win has given Oman an extra energy to perform better and improve every time.
“We will bring out our best on the field and want to show our fans about the potential of this Oman squad,” a confident Kanu said.
He also called on the fans for their full support for an excellent show against Palestine.
PALESTINE READY FOR CHALLENGE
Palestine have a perfect record in the qualifying campaign and will be eager to end it on a high.
“We are ready to meet the challenge Oman pose at their home,” Palestine’s Bolivian coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso said.
“Our players are fit with most of our good players in the squad. We hope to return with full points as group champions,” Baldivieso said. Baldivieso, who took over in late 2017, will be overseeing his first AFC Asian Cup qualifying match after gaining extensive experience in his native South America.
Palestine captain Abdul Latif Bahdari also voiced confidence in taming Oman in Muscat.
“We are set for a fearless display of our game against Oman.”
“We have prepared very well for the match under our new coach. We are confident of topping the group and we deserve to be in the Asian Cup finals,” the Palestine defender said.
Oman picked up home-and-away wins against the Maldives and Bhutan to take the qualifying spot with the defeat in Palestine only blot on Oman’s record in qualifying.
In the other game in the group, the Maldives will entertain Bhutan knowing a draw will secure third place in the standings.
The Indian Ocean islanders, who are under new management after Petar Segrt replaced Australia’s Darren Stewart at the helm, need only a draw to seal third place having previously defeated Bhutan 2-0 in Thimphu.

Oman (from): Fayez al Rushaidi, Ali al Busaidy, Mahmoud Mabrouk, Yassin al Shiyady, Khalid al Hajri, Abdulaziz al Muqbali (Al Suwaiq), Ibrahim al Mukhaini (Al Arouba), Ali al Jabri and Mohammed Faraj (Al Nahdha), Saud al Farsi (Oman), Abdullah Noah, Ahmed Faraj and Fahmi Dorbin (Al Nasr), Motaz Salih, Abdullah Fawaz and Basil al Rawahi (Dhofar), Jameel al Yahmadi and Ishhad Obaid (Al Shabab), Faisal al Harthi (Seeb).
Players from foreign leagues: Mohammed al Musalami (Al Jazira club of UAE), Saad Suhail (Al Naser of Saudi Arabia), Mohsin Jawhar (Uhud of Saudi Arabia), Said al Ruzaiqi (Al Arabi of Kuwait), Ahmed Kanu (Al Mesaimeer of Qatar), Nadir Awadh (Al Shahania of Qatar) and Raed Ibrahim (Valletta of Malta).