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Branko focuses on striking prowess


MUSCAT, Nov 14

The national football team beat Olympic team 3-0 in a friendly match at the Seeb Stadium on Friday. Abdulaziz al Maqbali scored the opening goal from penalty while Khalid al Hajri struck the second and third goals.

This is the second victory for the ‘Red Warriors’ after they had edged Muscat team 1-0 on Tuesday at the same venue. The goal in Muscat preparatory match was scored by striker Khalid al Hajri as well. In the local friendlies, coach Branko is focusing to assure efficiency of the attacking side and conversion of scoring attempts.

The Olympic team suffered two losses and held one draw in the last three preparatory matches that the team had during the under way camp. In the first match, the team received a 2-0 defeat from Bausher while they played out a 1-1 draw against Al Khabourah.

The Red Warriors will end the ongoing domestic camp on November 19 and one more preparatory match is pending for the team against the Olympic team on Monday before completion of the warm-up camp. The warm-up matches will support the head coach of the national team, Branko Ivankovic, on having better ideas on each player’s technical performance and abilities. Moreover, the coach will also be able to decide the starting line-up.

According to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the dates for the Asian Qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023, were approved by the AFC Competitions Committee. The Asian Qualifiers Round 2 matches should be completed by June 15, 2021 with Match Day 7 and 8 in March 2021 and Match Day 9 and 10 in June 2021 with the Final Round of the Asian Qualifiers beginning in September 2021.The 10 match days of the Asian Qualifiers Final Round should be finished by the end of March 2022 with the Asian and Inter-Continental Play-offs proposed for the Fifa window May/June in 2022. The Asian Play-off for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 is proposed as a single match.

With the above clarifications and announcement by AFC, it is expected that the Croatian coach will announce soon on comprehensive plan for better preparation for Oman to the top assignment at the joint qualification for World Cup and Asian Championship.

In a previous press conference for coach Ivankovic in last September, he affirmed that he will keep track of the players performance in the league matches in December, January and February. The comprehensive technical preparation for the national team to the joint qualification of the World Cup and AFC Asian Cup will begin in March. From December to March, the players will be busy with their local teams. However, we will try to utilise the Fifa days to arrange camps for 10 days or for a shorter period,” he said.

At the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 China Asian Cup double qualifiers, the Red Warriors are currently positioned second in Group E with 12 points while Asian champions Qatar are topping the group with 13 points from five games. Afghanistan are placed third with four points. India (3 points) and Bangladesh (1 point) are in the third and fourth positions respectively.


Adil Al Balushi

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