Koeman’s Oman confident of getting past Bangladesh

Muscat: Oman head coach Erwin Koeman is confident of a professional performance from his boys in the crucial Fifa World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Joint Qualification second round match against Bangladesh at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Thursday. Oman will be hoping to bag three points against a lower-ranked Bangladesh outfit. The ‘Red Warriors’ are second in the group now with six points from three games.

Bangladesh are at the bottom with one point from three games while Qatar lead the table with 10 points from four matches. Coach Koeman felt the ‘Red Warriors’ are favourites as expected but the game will not be an easy one by any means. “I know there is a lot of talk in the media that the match will be an easy one for us. Let me tell you that there are no easy games in football. We have analysed Bangladesh’s game very well. They played a tight game against India and made it hard for them. We have a lot of respect for them but we are here to win the game,” he added.

Koeman expects Oman to dominate the game over the period of 90 minutes. “We will have a lot of chances and it is about us. It is all about the form of the day and I’m very confident that we can perform on the day,” the Dutchman stated. Oman legend Ali al Habsi, who was also present for the pre-match press briefing, said the Oman national team will be targeting advancing to the next round. “We are looking at progressing to the next round. We have to play very well. We have to look at the positives and move forward. Our target is to top the group and now we are fitter as a team compared to when we played our first match against India. We will be playing at 100 per cent and we are fully ready for the game,” he added.

HOME ADVANTAGE Koeman felt Oman will have the advantage of playing at home against Bangladesh but the expected presence of a large number of Bangladeshi fans will certainly spice up the contest. “There will be a lot of Bangladesh fans in the crowd and that will bring some intensity to the contest. Pressure will be there but again you should not play football if you cannot handle pressure,” Koeman stated. Bangladesh coach Jamie Day exuded optimism and caution in equal measure. “We are looking forward to tomorrow’s game. We played Qatar at home and did really well. Oman are playing very well at the moment and we have to be on top of our game. Everyone in the team is fit and raring and ready to go,” coach Day said.

The coach also felt Bangladesh’s impressive performance against India in Kolkata will hold them in good stead for the Oman match. “Oman is ahead of India in terms of ability. We had a gameplan for the India game. We will have a gameplan for Oman. We have to replicate the performance and go a notch higher as well,” Day explained. Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan said the visitors would look to bank on the counter-attacking strategy which works well for them. “We feel our strength is to counter-attack by lying deep and defending and attacking on the counter,” he said.