Omani clubs falter at Asian hurdle

Muscat, Feb 14 – Once again, the Omani teams failed to do well in the AFC Cup. When Al Nahdha were on the brink of reaching the 2008 final for the first time in Omani history but lost to Bahraini side Al Muharaq in the semifinal, we all optimistically said that a new Omani football era has started. And next year, Oman national team won its first Gulf Cup. Despite all of those good indicators, the performance of the clubs became even worse and worse. The bad results forced us to participate in the AFC Cup with only one and a half seat, as the winner of HM’s Cup have to play in the play-off qualifications.
This season, the Omani fans kept hopes on Al Suwaiq and Dhofar to have a brilliant start in the competition. Al Suwaiq are dominating in the local competitions, leading the Omantel League with 6 points clear of second-placed Al Shabab, and qualified to the quarterfinal of the HM’s Cup.
But, what happened? Al Suwaiq slumped to a humiliating 4-1 loss to Al Malkia of Bahrain, who are struggling in the Bahrain league. While Dhofar were defeated 2-0 at home to Al Ansar of Lebanon, who are also not doing well in their Lebanon League, sitting in the sixth place.
The question is that; do we really need to participate in the Asian competition if we are not ready enough?
There is a talk at the Oman Football Association that the Omani clubs cannot provide the senior national team with players of quality and high fitness, so that, they always conduct a long training camps. This caused the long and continuous downtime in the calendar of the Omantel League and other divisions.
The story we heard about Al Suwaiq’s left back Hassan al Saadi who did not travel with his team to Bahrain as he didn’t get a permission from his employer, is another sad story that can clearly describe the main football crisis we have in the football industry. They are all combination of factors that interlinked and influenced each other. Setting a suitable 2018-19 football calendar can be one of the most important and highly requested thing that must be creatively done for the next season if we really hope to have a good football season for the clubs internally and externally, but surely it is not the only thing!.

Jaber Al Ajmi