MUSCAT: Oman head coach Branko Ivankovic affirmed that the Central Asian Football Association (Cafa) Nations Cup 2023 will be an excellent event to gear up for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 finals and the qualifiers for Asian teams on road to the Fifa World Cup 2026 as well as the AFC Asian Cup 2027.
“There will be a strong friendly which is confirmed against USA on September 12 in an away match. The team will have a short camp in the USA and there are talks ongoing to set up another preparatory game against Mexico or Canada on September 9 and this is to be confirmed yet. Playing against top international teams such as the USA will be a great opportunity for the national team players to adapt with top teams style,” Ivankovic told Oman Daily Observer during the first training session of the team.
Red Warriors reported back to the training sessions on Monday at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex after their last presence in the holy month of Ramadhan. The camp featured a friendly match against Lebanon. The preparatory fixture ended in favour of Oman 2-0 and both goals were scored by striker Essam al Subhi.
The Croatian coach explained the preparatory long term plans of Red Warriors as he unveiled the programme. “The underway domestic camp in Muscat which started on Monday is part of the team’s gearing up for Cafa Nations Cup 2023. Later, the players will be back to their clubs to gear up for the 2023-2024 league start in August. After a few weeks of the top domestic league, the national team will be back to their local and external camps in September. In October, the team members will resume their duty at the domestic clubs. In the following month, the qualifiers matches of Fifa World Cup 2026 as well as the AFC Asian Cup 2027 will begin while in December the team will be in a comprehensive programme ahead of the start of AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023,” he added.
Responding to an inquiry on the comeback of Mohsin al Ghassani, the 69-year-old said: ”The Seeb striker performed very well in this season and he ended the league with clinching the top-scorer award. He deserves a place in the national team. He is a young player and can deliver more in the field. Muscat club’s goalkeeper Mazin Saleh joined the camp for a purpose of learning and adapting with the training environment of the national team. He was one of the potential candidates in the Olympic team,” he concluded.
Oman were drawn in Group F along with Asian favourites Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 finals. The Asian championship will be hosted in Doha during January 12 to February 10, 2024. The national team will vie the hosts Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in Group A in the first edition of the Central Asian Football Association (Cafa) Nations Cup 2023 while Iran, Kyrgyzstan (hosts) and Afghanistan teams comprised Group B. The event is scheduled in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan during June 10 to 20.