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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Coach Branko proud of the players despite defeat

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Muscat: Sultanate of Oman’s hopes dented on competing for the playoff spot after a 1-0 defeat by Saudi Arabia in the seventh round of group B of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar on Thursday.


Post the match, the head coach of the national football team, Branko Ivankovic, congratulated Saudi team on the victory as they are very close to qualify for World Cup.


“Thanks to all the players for the top show and I am very proud of them. We managed to create many scoring attempts but failed to convert them on goals,” the Croatian coach added.


The 68-year-old pointed that absences of some players is not an excuse. Salah al Yahyae, Juma al Habsi, Khalid al Buraiki and Ahmed al Kaabi did not take part in the match due to the injury and positive cases of Covid.


"The rest of team squad performed very top technical performance. I was in full confidence on my selection for the match and the squad was in top discipline. The harmony during the match among the team players is part of the hard works during the last period,” he ended.


At the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah, Firas al Burikan netted the most important goal in the match to deliver three crucial points for the hosts and inched closer to advance to the 2022 World Cup in Doha.


With the significant triumph, Saudi’s tally reached 19 points ahead of the qualifiers completion by three rounds. Oman's tally freezed on seven points.


Despite the domination of 'Red Warriors' in the match through Al Mundher al Alawi movement and his team-mates who penetrated the opponent defense side a lot but all the scoring opportunities failed to find the net.


On the other hand, the Saudi head coach Herve Renard, said after the match that Oman team was an organised team and technically was led by an excellent coach.


“It was a very difficult match. I am not satisfied with the performance of our team in the match. The team's players managed to earn the match crucial points and reached to 19 points,” he added.


The French coach appointed that the team's target was clear from the opening game of the qualifiers.


“Delivering a top show in all the matches and registering the victories and clinching the winning points. We have to continue working hard in the forthcoming games as we did not seal the direct spot to World Cup yet,” he said.


Sultanate of Oman will play Australia in Muscat on Tuesday while Saudi team will have a tough clash against Japan on the same day. The tight clash will decide the first team advancing from group B to the World Cup officially.


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