MUSCAT: Oman registered a confidence-boosting 2-1 friendly victory over Palestine on Wednesday at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
The visitors took the lead by an early goal through Mahmood Abu Warda in the second minute while Red Warriors goals were netted by Omar al Malki through header in the 20th minute and Mohsin al Ghassani from a penalty in the 36th minute.
The warm-up match against Palestine was part of national team’s preparation for the preliminary Joint Qualification for the Fifa World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 besides the 2024 AFC Asian Cup.
The head coach of Oman senior football team, Branko Ivankovic, relied on a starting list with Fayez al Rushaidi as the goalkeeper. The four-man defence comprised Jameel al Yahmadi, Khalid al Buraiki, Ahmed al Khamisi and Ahmed al Kaabi. The midfielders were Abdullah Fawaz, Zaher al Aghbari and Omar al Malki played as an attacking midfielder. The striking line-up included Issam al Subhi and Mohsin al Ghassani.
Oman team, ranked 73rd in Fifa world ranking as of last July, and the opponent Palestine team, ranked 96th, began the match with more focus to score an opening goal. The visitors managed to break the deadlock with an early goal in the second minute by Mahmood Abu Warda after a perfect ball from Tamer Seyam.
Later, Oman players pressed hard for an equaliser. In the 10th minute, Zaher al Aghbari created a scoring attempt as he sent a ball to Issam al Subhi who was inside the box but his ball went above the cross bar.
Branko’s men were working from different sides to find a goal and Jameel al Yahmadi played active role as he was delivering assists to the penalty box for the strikers.
After series of attempts, Omar al Malki equalised the result as he headed in a cross from Abdullah Fawaz. In the 29th minute, Oman goal scorer Al Malki was replaced by Abdulrahman al Mushaifri. The goal encouraged the hosts players to double the result.
The Saudi referee Khalid al Turaisi decided a penalty for Oman after Jameel al Yahmadi was brought down in the box by Palestine's Alaa Edin Hasan. The penalty was converted by Mohsin al Ghassani for a second goal in the 36th minute.
Before the end of the first half, Saleh Chihadeh was very close to equalise for Palestine but his weak shot was saved by Fayez. The first-half ended with Oman leading 2-1.
In the following half, both coaches including Branko Ivankovic and Makram Dabdoob performed different substitutions as they gave chances for several players.
Seeb player Tamim al Balushi played his first international match as he replaced Al Nahdha’s Issam al Subhi. Musab al Maamari was another available young face in the national team squad during the second half as he delivered a good show. Musab was very close to score third goal for the national team but his shot went wide in the 86th minute.
Substitute goalkeeper Ahmed al Rawahi saved Oman from a goal in the dying minutes as he thwarted a scoring attempt by Palestine's Saleh Chihadeh. The match continued without any change in the result despite the substitutions from both teams as Oman won the game by 2-1.