‘We will do everything to win’, says Oman football coach

Oman Monday 06/September/2021 21:56 PM
By: Times News Service
‘We will do everything to win’, says Oman football coach
Oman football coach

Muscat: Oman will give it their all in search of victory in their crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday evening, Head Coach Branko Ivankovic has said.

The two neighbouring Gulf countries lock horns at 8pm on Tuesday at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat, with the match to be attended by supporters who haven’t been able to see the Reds play live for 18 months.

“We are fully prepared for our second game, against Saudi Arabia,” said Ivankovic, during his pre-match press conference. “The Saudis are one of the best teams in Asia, and have participated in many World Cups, which makes them very experienced.

They have a great coach and some great players, so we will do everything in our power to achieve a positive result.  

“We feel good about returning to play in front of our supporters in Oman, after such a long hiatus,” he added. “We thank God for the positive result earned against Japan by our national team, which helped raise the morale of our players.”

Both Oman and Saudi Arabia are among the six teams in Group B of the third stage of Asian qualifiers, which has two groups. The teams that finish first and second in both groups earn direct qualification to Qatar 2022.

Oman’s efforts in the latest stage of qualifying for next year’s World Cup got off to the best possible start when they stunned qualifying favourites Japan in Tokyo, thanks to an 88th minute winner from Essam Al Subhi. The Saudis also won their opening game, a 3-1 win over Vietnam.

“Our players are ready to win, and our victory against Japan will no doubt motivate us to do more,” said Ivankovic. “The task is not easy, but we are capable of overcoming challenges, and exploiting our opponents’ weaknesses.”

The Croatian’s opinion was shared by Oman’s Hareb Al Saadi, who is also looking forward to playing in front of supporters once more.

“Playing away from our country for a long while has not been easy,” he said. “Our win against Japan has helped show people that our team is ready and our spirits are high.”

Although the Saudis are the more experienced side, having featured at five World Cups, their coach Herve Renard knows he cannot afford to underestimate any of the opponents they will face during their qualifying run.

“The match will be difficult for us, particularly after Oman’s win over Japan, because of their good performances in that game,” said the Frenchman. “It will be an interesting match for both teams after the victory that was achieved in the first round of matches.

Although his team do have both experience and skill, Renard believes these may not be enough on their own: strong team spirit is also vital, before refusing to brand Oman’s win over Japan a shocking one.

“What Oman achieved during its previous match was not a surprise, because football is played on a green rectangle, and not on paper,” he said. “We know very well that all the qualifiers are difficult, so we must respect all the competing teams.”

Ahead of their match against Saudi Arabia, the Oman players and staff were paid a visit by His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham Al Said, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth.