Kuwait City, Jan 1 – Oman national team aspire to continue their recent supremacy over Bahrain when they face off in the semifinal of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup at Jaber International Stadium at 7:30 pm (Oman Time).
Since the 17th edition of the tournament, the Red Warriors met Bahrain five times, won three games and drew twice.
Two of the five meetings were in the same tournament, as Oman defeated Bahrain 3-2 in Gulf Cup 17, and won 1-0 in the 18th edition.
Besides the advantage in the head-to-head meetings, Oman are also a bit favourites to reach the final according to great performance and spirit they showed in the group stages. However, Bahrain, who still have not won the trophy, will not be an easy opponent and they have a strong motive to steal the highlight.
Oman’s tactician manager Pim Verbeek showed full respect for Bahrain and praised their style of play, but he declared that his men are good enough to beat Bahrain.
“I saw all Bahrain games, they are well organised in the defence and very good in counter-attack,” the Dutchman said.
“They wont allow you to score as we saw in the past three games.
“I analysed their strengths and weaknesses, but I trust my men to overcome them to reach the final. We are fully ready,” Verbeek added.
The 61-year-old explained that the good display of the national team in the group stage as a result of a continuous work for one year.
He said: “We trained very hard this year, we played many games to reach this level and have developed a certain style of play.”
“We respect all of our opponents and we analysed them well to understand their strategies in order to beat them using their areas of weakness,” Verbeek continued.
After the end of the group stage, most of the football pundits gave Oman a credit to snatch the title however they were not before the start of the tournament.
“We don’t have external pressure, we have an internal pressure on ourselves to give the best of what we have,” Verbeek answered.
The Dutchmen, who is considered as one of the best managers in the tournament so far, did not speak about how he would start against Bahrain but he said that there will be no big changes.
“I haven’t decided yet. After the final training I will see how my players are prepared physically and mentally. But I don’t think it will be a big difference in the final line-up,” he said.
“We have many qualities and the players are very excited to play in the semifinal.”
Verbeek emphasised that the main strength is the team spirit.
“I don’t count on the 11 players that are going to be in the field, the whole team even those who are sitting on the bench.
“It’s not my choice to say who is the best player because we play in the spirit of one team,” Verbeek said.
On the other side, Bahrain manager Miroslav Soukup said that he knew Oman national team since he met them in January 2017.
“Oman was the best team in Group A. We played against them in the CISM Military World Cup in Muscat, January 2017,” Soukup said.
“Their performance in all the past three games was incredible. Even against the UAE they were the favourites to win.”
The Czech coach insisted that they came to Kuwait to give Bahraini fans the first trophy of the Arabian Gulf Cup.
“We are here to live the Bahrain dream which is winning the title, so we are playing accordingly.”
“We have the support of our fans which will push us to give our best,” he said. The participation of the Bahraini star Jamal Rashid is in doubt due to injury he had against Qatar.
“Jamal is one of the best players in this tournaments and I wish that he is prepared for our game against Oman,” Soukup said.
Jaber al Ajmi