MUSCAT, Dec 17 – Oman edged Tajikistan 1-0 in an international friendly at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Sunday night to wrap up its preparations at home for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in January.
Striker Khalid al Hajri netted the winner for the hosts in the 58th minute.
This was Oman’s second straight win at home in friendlies. The Red Warriors had beat Bahrain 2-1 earlier.
With the win, Oman’s final domestic camp for Asian Cup has come to an end. The Pim Verbeek-coached team will now depart for Abu Dhabi, UAE, where it will be based for the January 5-February 1 continental tournament.
Before the match, Oman captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’ was felicitated for completing 150 matches for the Sultanate. HH Sayyid Shihab bin Tareq al Said, Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan, presented the Oman captain a jersey emblazoned No 150.
Kanu, who has represented Oman for the past 15 years, led the Sultanate to their second Gulf Cup win in Kuwait in January.
At the Asian Cup, Oman are grouped along with Japan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Group F. The top two teams and the four-best third-placed teams will make it to the Round of 16.
Oman will meet Uzbekistan in their opening match on January 7.
“It is always better to start with a win. That will be what we are looking for in the Asian Cup,” Verbeek had told Oman Observer.
“Our team is balanced one and we hope for a decent performance in the tournament,” the Dutch coach said.
Oman’s second match is against former champions Japan on January 13 before taking on Turkmenistan on January 17. Oman are set to play three friendlies before the start of Asian Cup.
The final camp will be held in Abu Dhabi starting on December 22. Oman will play India on December 27 and Australia on December 30 and complete their preparations with a friendly against Thailand
on January 2.