Oman football national team booked their place in the semi spot of the 23th edition Arabian Gulf Cup after blanking Saudi Arabia 2-0 thanks to Said al Ruzaiqi’s brace. Pim Verbeek’s men produced quality play in the second half and recorded their first victory over KSA in the history of the Gulf Cup competitions.

Before the start of the tournament, the Omani fans were very pessimistic and according to a poll on Oman Daily Observer Twitter account which was voted by more than 1,500 fans, 70 per cent thought that Oman will not qualify from the group stage.
By the end of the group stage, Oman not only qualified to the semifinal but also topped the group with six points. In the process, they showed that the team has got the best attacking and defence lines.
There are five things we learn as Oman top Group A and qualified to the semifinal.

‘Shaping up’ the team

Finally we can say that Dutchman Verbeek has found a suitable shape for Oman national team. After nine months since he arrived in Oman, he created a clear identity and style of play for the team. To Verbeek’s credit, the players were successful in implementing the game plan in all the three matches.
The Gulf Cup is the most famous and important tournament in GCC region but the 2019 Asian Cup is more important for Oman as they look to revitalise their international credentials. So settling down with a strong shape is the most valuable outcome of this tournament. As it was mentioned in the match-report of the loss against the UAE, “Oman still can go far” and they did. They can go even further than the semifinal also.

Master coach

Calm, realistic, and confident are the three words that can describe Dutchman Pim Verbeek since he came to Oman.
‏Day by day, he is proving that he is the man who can really bring the Red Warriors to their golden era.
‏He applied a few principles which impacted positively on the team. Verbeek was keen to cultivate trust between the coach and the team so they understand his philosophy.
‏Finally, he didn’t rush for the results and was focusing on developing a consistent performance from the team.

Mental preparation

One of the supporting points for Verbeek’s team is the mental presence that both administrative and technical staff built in the players.
Despite the loss to UAE in the opener, and the inquiry issue followed this game. The OFA had raised an issue with the organising committee and the Fifa about UAE team which allowed a player to participate in their game against Oman who should be suspended, this did not affect the players. We saw a balance between the administrative and technical functions in providing a healthy environment for the players to be focused only on developing their abilities.
The team which deserved at least one point against the UAE, again showed an excellent performance in the second game and won it 1-0 before they defeated KSA 2-0.

Physical performance

Almost all football pundits agreed that the Oman national team is the best team in terms of fitness in the tournament.
Three games within 7 days only with almost same starting eleven can obviously show that the physical work that was done in the past 12-day Muscat training camp before the start of the tournament was quite successful.
Pim Verbeek told the reporters in his first press conference before the UAE game that he is very satisfied about Muscat training camp and the results of this camp will reflect eventually on the team’s performance.

Focus on target

In an exclusive interview with Oman Daily Observer in Muscat Verbeek said that his main goal was to reach the semifinal. The one extra advantage that helped the whole team to reach their goals, that they ignored all the expectations neither negative or positive, they were only focused on each and every game they played, without distracting themselves and thinking about the future or comparing with the history.
All those facts helped Oman team to be mentally present to notice their drawbacks and improve them immediately.
This elevation in the performance led Oman to be the title favourites as agreed by the Gulf media.

Jaber al Ajmi reviews five highlights of Oman’s journey to last four