Oman begin on right note

By Anuroop Athiparambath — MUSCAT: Jan. 16 – After an ordinary first-half performance, Oman returned to thrill the local fans in the second half to complete a 5-0 rout of Guinea in the opening match of the second CISM World Cup football championship. The hosts led first half by a goal but returned later to slam in four more goals to make a great start to the CISM World Cup title campaign at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bausher late on Sunday. For Oman, Abdul Aziz al Maqbali scored a brace (penalty 22nd minute, 55th), Mohammed Saleh al Musalmi netted one goal in the 59th minute and Mohammed Touqui’s brace in 62 and 67th minutes completed the routing of Guinea.
“Guinea had defended well in the first half. We were also bit off target from the start in the first half. But after Abdulaziz’s first goal, we got settled and were able to organise some solid moves,” Oman coach Muhanna Said al Adawi said.
Oman, who were rusty from the start, could not break the Guinean defence in the opening 20 minutes.
But the hosts earned a penalty in the 22nd minute, when Mohammed Touqui’s cross hit the arm of Guinean defender Abdoulaye Naby Camar.
Skipper Abdul Aziz coolly slotted home for the opening goal for the hosts in the tournament.
Though Oman pressed hard for more goals, Guinean defence and some off-the-target finishing by the Omani forwards kept the score 1-0 at the break.
The second half showed a more determined local side organising some constructive moves through both the flanks.
It was Abdul Aziz again with a clean header finish to make it 2-0 for Oman after 10 minutes into the half.
“It was great to start off with goals in the opening match,” said star forward Al Maqbali.
Al Maqbali, who had some injury worries, was particularly happy to find his rhythm and fitness in the opening match.
“We are happy to start with a good win and a 5-0 victory will surely boost our campaign in the tournament, the Oman skipper said.
Coach Muhanna said the victory is a pleasing one though Guinea are not among the top teams of the tournament.
“To start a tournament, especially World Cup with a 5-0 win is really a confidence booster. Hope we will be well placed to perform better in the upcoming matches,” he said.
The Guinea coach said his side missed some good players in the match.
“Oman are a top side and we missed some of our good players due to injuries. Though we started off well, our inexperienced side found it difficult to handle the Omani attacks.”
During the final phase of the match, Mohsin Jawhar failed to convert a penalty as Oman missed a chance to finish it 6-0.
Next up Oman will play Bahrain at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on January 18 at 8 pm.
Oman take on France in their final Group A match on January 20.
The top two teams from the four group will advance to the quarterfinals to be played on January 24 and the semifinals will take place on January 26. The third-place play-off and the final will be held on January 28.