MUSCAT, FEB 6 – Pim Verbeek took charge of the Oman national football team at a time when Oman were languishing no where near their past glory of winning Arabian Gulf Cup at home in 2009.
The former coach of Australia and South Korea is now finishing his Oman job after fulfilling the objectives he and the Oman Football Association (OFA) had set for the national team.
By winning the second Arabian Gulf Cup title in 2018, Verbeek instilled a new belief among the football fans of the Sultanate.
Ahead of the Gulf Cup in Kuwait, a majority of the fans never considered Oman as competent for the title.
But working silently with determination, Verbeek proved the pundits wrong with his bunch of youngsters.
Led by a hard-working captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’, Oman unveiled many young talents in the regional tournament to stun their high-profile opponents.
Goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi’s exploits in Kuwait earned him the quality to succeed the legendary Ali al Habsi.
Many of the players were noted by the regional clubs and Omantel League also took notice for its presence of talented young footballers.
Having the tag of Gulf Cup winners, coach Verbeek took special attention to lift Oman’s game in the continental showpiece in the UAE.
“Our 23-member squad consists of players who are capable of showing an impressive performance for the team. Anyone from the squad can make it to the final eleven,” Verbeek told Oman Observer in Sharjah during the Asian Cup.
His confidence was visible when substitutes Muhsin al Ghassani and Mohammed al Ghassani nearly threatened for an upset win against heavyweights Japan.
The tactician coach had a game plan against the top-class opponents at the AFC tournament.
The Oman team impressed one and all after their brilliant show at the Asian Cup.
Rival coaches from Japan and Uzbekistan praised the players for their gritty show against them.
Many journalists from Asia also appreciated the work of the veteran coach with the Red Warriors squad.
“Today Oman were fantastic. In the second half, Japan could not employ their game plan due to the continuous aggressive play by the Omani forwards. I wish all the luck for Oman in the next match,” a Japanese journalist told Observer after the narrow 1-0 win by Japan.
Japanese head coach Hajime Moriyasu also had admitted that the Oman performance made them unable to take upperhand in the match.
“We had a different plan for Oman. But Oman created attacking moves frequently and we had to settle in defence,” the Japanese coach said after the match.
Verbeek is leaving Oman at a time when the team is in a position hard earned with years of preparation and guidance.
The ball is in the court of Oman Football Association to find an able replacement for the ever-reliant Verbeek, who can carry on the good work.