Poor fitness levels affected the players’ performance, says Koeman –
Adil al Balushi –
Muscat, Sept 6 –
Despite the oscillating fortunes of the Oman national football team in their 2022 Fifa World Cup qualification second round Group E match against India in Guwahati, the ‘Red Warriors’ managed to succeed after 90 minutes.
‘Red Warriors’ and Asian champions Qatar commenced their campaign in the 2023 Asian Cup joint qualification with first three points in group E. Oman beat India 2-1 while Qatar trashed Afghanistan 6-0 in Doha on Thursday.
Qatar topped the group with goal difference over the Oman national team while India and Afghanistan positioned in the third and fourth place respectively.
Al Mandhar Rabia stole the limelight as he was the star of the match. He scored both goals of the Sultanate team in the match prior the end of regulation time by ten minutes. Al Mandhar netted the equaliser in the 83rd minute while the winning goal was struck in the dying minutes of the match.
Erwin Koeman, the head coach of the Oman national team, stated the team began the qualification with the intention of registering a crucial victory.
“Our preparations for the match were very late like the hosts of the match, Indian team. In both countries, the league has not started yet. Our focus was on the fitness side during the last period in the warm up camp. I believed the physical part of the players should be better than we saw in the match,” the Dutchman added.
Oman’s coach Koeman confessed the team was not at the required technical level especially in the first half. “ We had a series of mistakes in the first set of the match. However, we tried to overcome and rectify the faults in the second half and we managed to score goals,” he explained.
The Dutchman showed his admiration to the Indian players and their positive efforts during the match. “ There are young and mature faces in the team and they have a bright future,” Koeman concluded.
On the other hand, Croatia’s Igor Stimac, the Indian coach expressed his disappointment as the team suffered a 2-1 loss against Oman.
“It’s a very sad conclusion of the match. I believe our players could score more than one goal. The first half was dominated by our side and without any single attack from the guests,” the Croatian added.
“Despite to the loss, I am very proud of my players and I cannot blame anyone. The match consist of 90 minutes and it is not a duration of 70 minutes only. Some players lost their focus and concentration in the last half an hour of the match where the opponent benefited from this weakness ,” coach Stimac concluded.
The Oman national team will be in the recovery mode for the second round of the joint qualification of World Cup Qatar 2022 and Asian Cup China 2023 which will take place on September 10. Qatar will host India while Bangladesh will have their opening match against Afghanistan.