Red Warriors, Palestine face off for Group D lead

Oman national team faces hosts Palestine in the second game of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifying on Wednesday at Faisal al Husseini International Stadium in Al Ram.
The match is set for early morning 4 am start according to Muscat time on June 14.
The Red Warriors will hope to come back to Muscat with full points in order to put one foot in the Asian Cup finals as Palestine are the strongest competitor in Group D. The Group consists of Oman, Palestine, Maldives, and Bhutan.
In the first Round, Pim Verbeek’s squad destroyed Bhutan 14-0, while Palestine defeated Maldives 3-0 away. Oman and Palestine are all set to qualify from the group ahead of below par Bhutan and Maldives. The top two teams of the group qualifies to the finals directly.
Oman are on their way to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup for the fourth time after 2004, 2007 and 2015, while Palestine are hoping to make it twice in a row after 2015.
In the pre-match press conference, Verbeek seemed confident of returning to Muscat with a positive score.
He said: “It is an important game for both of the teams as they hope to qualify for the finals. Although all circumstances are in the interest of the hosts Palestine, we are well prepared to give a big show.’’
The Reading FC player and Oman captain Ali al Habsi expressed his happiness for being in Palestine. He said: “A historical visit for us. We hope to have a good game that makes the crowd happy.”
Palestine manager AbdulNaser Barakat said: “We are missing some good players but it will not affect us. We have worked hard to build a strong squad to take the group lead from Oman.”
The Red Warriors have had two training camps before Palestine encounter. The first one was in Muscat from May 27 to June 2, where they played a friendly game against Syria, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Afterwards, they travelled to Jordan for the external camp from June 3, before they arrived in Palestine on June 11.
Abdulnasser Bakajat’s side also did two external camps, in Morocco for 10 days, including a 2-1 victory over Olympic Khouribga club in a friendly. Then they travelled to Bahrain for the second camp and defeated Bahrain 2-0 in a friendly game.
Palestine match will be the first official game for Pim Verbeek who missed Bhutan game due to family circumstance. He has a wide mixture of players that meet his vision.
Oman’s 26-player squad: Ali al Habsi, Faiz al Rushaidi, Abdulaziz al Muqbali, Mohammed al Mashari, Saad bin Suhail al Mukhaini, Basil bin Abdullah al Rawahi, Abdulsalam bin Amor al Mukhaini, Nadhir Awadh Bashir, Ali bin Sulaiman al Busaidi, Raed bin Ibrahim al Mukhaini, Qasim Said Hardan, Riyadh Subait, Abdullah Fawaz, Jameel al Yahmadi, Ibrahim al Mukhaini, Khalid Salah, Sami Khamis, Saud al Farsi, Yasin al Shiyadi, Mohammed al Musallami, Omar bin Talib al Fazari, Mahmood bin Mabrouk al Mushaifri, Mohsin al Khalidi, Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’, Khalid al Hajri, and Mohammed bin Faraj al Rawahi.

– Jaber al Ajmi