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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Dhofar target 9th HM Cup

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Youthful Al Oruba look to snatch fifth title in final today -


MUSCAT, Nov 28


Eight-time champions Dhofar will lock horns with four-time winners Al Oruba in the final of the 2019-2020 His Majesty’s Football Cup Championship on Sunday at Al Rustaq Sports Complex. The summit clash of the coveted cup will kick off at 6 pm under auspices of HH Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, who will be the chief guest and award the trophy to the winners in presence of dignitaries and officials.


The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth and Oman Football Association (OFA), in coordination with the Supreme Committee and Ministry of Health, allowed an attendance of 100 fans from both teams’ supporters with full implementation of the medical measures to avoid spreading of the COVID-19.


The Salalah giants are one win away to equalise Fanja’s record of nine titles while the Al Sharqiyah-based team will try to recall the memories of the 2014-15 final as they had beaten neighbours Sur 2-1 and clinched the coveted title for fourth time. Both teams faced each other before 30 years and it was in the final of the HM Cup in 1989-90 as Dhofar won the match 1-0. Moreover, both teams met in the 2019-20 Omantel League and the matches ended in draws. However, today’s game will have a different outcome as both teams are keen to add a new title in their treasure.


Al Oruba, coached by Haitham al Alawi, are fancied to lift the coveted title and to escape team’s relegation to the first division league. Al Alawi’s men, who will represent the team today, are basically new faces and playing in the final for first time except the experienced players including Ahmed Saleem, Khalid Saleh and Younis Mubarak.


On the other hand, experienced national coach Rasheed Jaber will try to end the season for Salalah giant with another title after claiming the Super Cup against Sur in last September at the same venue which will host the final game of the showpiece tournament. Rasheed Jaber has many key players with full experience in the finals who can monitor the game well including Salim al Nahar, Fayez al Rushaidi, Qasim Said, Mohammed al Musalami, Harib al Saadi, Abdul Salam Amer, Lopez and Salah al Yahyaei.


Dhofar and Al Oruba overcame tough matches in the knockout stages.


Dhofar entered the final after edging Al Nahda on away goal as the first leg of the semifinal ended 1-1 at Al Buraimi Sports Complex, while the second leg ended goalless at Al Sadaa Sports Complex.


In the quarterfinal round, the Salalah side picked up an aggregate 3-0 win over Oman Club thanks to 3-0 win in the first leg, while second leg was a goalless draw. Dhofar began the HM Cup campaign with a comfortable 4-0 win over Al Musannah and followed with a crucial 1-0 victory over the Omantel League champions Seeb.


Al Oruba secured spot in the final with a comeback 1-0 win against Ibri in the second leg after losing the first leg 2-1. The Sur-based team commenced the campaign with a 3-0 victory over Majees. Then in round 16, Al Oruba edged Al Khabourah 1-0 and repeated the same margin against Al Nasr in the quarterfinal first leg and posted a 2-1 win in the second leg game.


COACHES CONFIDENT


Dhofar coach Rasheed Jaber said the team’s preparation for the summit clash began since August. “The remaining rounds of top-tier league and the semifinals of the coveted cup were good platforms to warm up for the final of the HM Cup. There is no major absence except Al Mundher al Alawi while all the other team players are in good shape,” he told a press conference.


Fayez al Rushaidi, Oman and Dhofar goalkeeper, voiced confidence of winning the top domestic game. “We had good technical preparation and hope to lift the ninth title,” he said.


Al Oruba head coach Haitham al Alawi expressed satisfaction on entering the final of the HM Cup.


“It is a great honour for any team to play in the final match of the HM Cup. Obviously, the opponents are tough and runners-up of the 2019-20 Omantel League with top and experienced players. However, we are depending on our youthful players to lift the title,” he said.


Al Alawi preferred to forget their performance in the Omantel League and focus on the final game. “Our full concentration is on the summit clash of the HM Cup and there is no pressure on the team,” he said.


Al Oruba captain Ahmed Saleem sounded confident that all Al Oruba players are in good form and said they are looking to end the match with the fifth title.


Adil Al Balushi


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