Islamic Games: Oman face Azerbaijan in gold medal match
May 20, 2017 | 9:41 PM
by Sports Reporter

Muscat: With just two days left before the curtains come down on the Islamic Solidarity Games in Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku, Oman are eyeing golden glory both in the football and women’s singles tennis competitions.

While the Sultanate’s tennis sensation Fatma Al Nabhani stayed on course for the gold after a quarterfinal victory over Theiviya Selva Rajoo of Malaysia on Saturday, Hamad Al Azzani-coached Oman under-23 side have made it to the gold medal match of the foodball competition with a stunning 4-3 penalty shootout win over Cameroon on Thursday.

Oman are yet to open their gold account, though they have won five medals of other hues, including two silver and three bronze.

So far Oman’s medals came through the efforts of shooters Ismail Al Abri (50m pistol silver), Ismail Al Abri and Wadha Al Balushi (mixed team 10m air pistol silver), Said Al Hashmi (25m rapid fire pistol bronze), Hamed Al Khatri (50m Rifle 3 Position bronze) and star sprinter Barakat Al Harthy (100m bronze).

In Saturday’s women’s singles quarterfinals of tennis competition, Fatma overcame a late challenge by Malaysian lass Theiviya Selva Rajoo for a 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) and a place in the last four stage.

The Omani girl, who won the singles gold in 2013 Games held in Indonesia, will now take on Turkey’s Ayla Aksu in Sunday’s semifinals. Ayla Asku advanced after defeating Komola Umarova of Uzbekistan 7-5, 6-2.

The women’s singles final will take place on Monday morning with the Games scheduled to conclude with a closing ceremony in the evening.

Al Azzani’s boys ready

Meanwhile, Oman’s football team geared up for Sunday’s gold medal match with Azerbaijan with a rigorous training session under the watchful eyes of head coach Hamad Al Azzani and his assistants Mohammed Khamis Al Araimi and Badr Al Maimani.

The match, to be played at 30,000 capacity Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, will kick off at 9.00 pm Oman time.

The third-place play-off match between Cameroon and Algeria will be played at the same venue from 2.00 p.m.

Oman team’s match eve training session was attended by Oman Football Association (OFA) vice-chairman Dr. Jassim Al Shukaili and board member Ahmed Al Rashdi and Oman Delegation Director Salman Al Balushi.

Against hosts Azerbaijan, Oman are expected to start with the same elevan as in the past matches. Hamad Al Azzani is most likely to start with Bilal Al Balushi, Hassan Al Saadi, Juma Al Habsi, Majid Al Saadi, Ahmed Al Matroushi, Ibrahim Al Suwafi, Juma Al Mamari, Abdulaziz Al Ghailani, Mohsin Al Ghassani, Marwan Taib and Salah Al Yahyaei.

Coach Hamad Al Azzani reasoned that all the players have done well in the last four matches and now they are eager to achieve the gold for the country.

Assistant coach Badr Al Maimani, while praising the entire team for the excellent display in the previous matches, said: “Now it is the time to give everything and play their hearts out to get the gold medal. We are very proud of this bunch of players and we are hoping they will go all the way to clinch the top honours.”

Meanwhile, Salman bin Abdulrahim Al Balushi, director of Sultanate’s delegation, informed that special arrangements have been made to ensure large presence of Omani fans at the stadium as the national team will be competing against the hosts.

He also urged all Omanis and the supporters of Oman football turn up in large numbers to back the team during the final.

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