Muscat: Advancing to the second round qualification for World Cup Qatar 2022 is the top priority for new Oman head coach Branko Ivankovic who was officially unveiled by the Oman Football Association (OFA) on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference at the OFA headquarters at Seeb Stadium, the Croatian coach said the Oman team has the potential to take on any top side in Asia. ”After watching some matches that involved Oman in the last Asian Cup, I feel Oman players are competent enough to take on any top team in Asia,” Ivankovic said.
The 65-year-old coach has signed a two-year deal with the OFA. The Croatian, who last managed Al Ahli Saudi FC, said: ”I feel my game strategies are closely linked to the region. I feel it could be implemented smoothly by the Oman players.”
Ivankovic, who played 12 years of professional football with Croatian club Varteks Varazdin, will be put into task when Oman face Afghanistan in an away match of the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 China Asian Cup double qualifiers. ”I feel very proud and honoured to be part of the football project in Oman.”
The former Persepolis coach said he would like always to give chance for good young players. ”There are some very good young players in the country and they will have a chance to play for Oman.”
However, Ivankovic said there will not be any significant changes in the structure of the team soon. The Croatian said he was watching some recent matches of Oman in the World Cup qualifiers.
”We hope to achieve good results for the national team, most significantly to qualify for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Also, we target a slot in the Asian Cup 2023 in China,” the former coach of Iran said.
Ivankovic’s all-Croatian support staff include Mario Tokic (assistant coach), Igor Panadic (goalkeeper coach), Marko Stilovic (fitness trainer) and Zlatko Ivankovic (analyst coach).
Oman conclude their second round of qualifiers in Group E with a match against Bangladesh in Dhaka on June 9 before taking on Asian champions Qatar in Muscat on June 4 in a heavy-weight clash. The ‘Red Warriors’ now have 12 points from five games while Qatar are leading the group by 13 points from the same number of matches.
”I hope to meet the expectations of the OFA and Omani football fans by putting in our best efforts,” he concluded.
Pictures by Mohammed Mahjoub