Oman coach leaves nothing to chance ahead of Bahrain clash
January 1, 2018 | 9:40 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan/[email protected]

Muscat: Oman national football team coach Pim Verbeek is taking nothing for granted as his side face Bahrain in the semi-finals of the 2017 Arabian Gulf Cup of Nations.

The Sultanate take on Bahrain at the Jaber Al Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City today night, and Dutchman Verbeek is planning to stick to his tactics that saw his team top Group A, ahead of hosts Kuwait, and regional favourites Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Read also: ROP issues guidelines for Oman fans flying to Gulf Cup

“We are proud that we’ve gotten to the semifinals, we have prepared the players well in the last two days and everybody is ready for the match against Bahrain’s national team,” said Verbeek, during his team’s pre-match press conference.

Also read: Oman provides eight free flights for Gulf Cup fans

“The Bahrain coach has watched our last three games and knows our potential well,” he added. “They are very well organised and the team has a strong defence so it is hard to create many opportunities to score, but we have this feature as well.”

Verbeek’s last practice session with the Oman team ahead of the Bahrain game was on Monday, and although there will be a certain number of players who are guaranteed to start, his final team sheet will be decided only on the day of the game. “Today, we will have our last training exercise and we’ll make sure our players are ready physically and mentally, and then I’ll decide who will start in tomorrow’s game,” added Verbeek, who has formerly coached the Australia, South Korea and UAE national teams. “I have a basic plan and there are alternatives in case of any unforeseen circumstances, but I don’t think there will be a big change here over previously

used tactics.”

With Oman now in the semis, there is plenty of talk about whether the Sultanate can once again with the Gulf Cup of Nations, repeating their 2009 success, which took place when the tournament came to Oman, as the Sultanate beat Saudi Arabia on penalties at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat.

“Everybody talks about 2009 and the team’s achievement during the 19th Gulf Cup, but we will not rush things and our focus now is on the Bahrain match only,” explained Verbeek.

“There is no pressure on me as a foreign coach and all the players have a great desire and determination to make Oman happy and reach the final.

Oman take on Bahrain at 6:30pm Oman time today evening, ahead of Iraq’s game against the UAE. Oman topped Group A following a 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia and a 1-0 win over Kuwait, after they’d lost their opening game 1-0 to the UAE, who finished second. Bahrain, on the other hand, finished second in Group B, after drawing 1-1 with Iraq, beating Yemen 1-0 and holding 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar to a 1-1 draw. Oman’s progress to the semis has drawn positive reaction back home: the Sultanate’s Ministry of Sports Affairs has teamed up with Majlis Al Shura and the Oman Football Association to send eight free Royal Oman Air Force flights for fans looking to travel to Kuwait, while Oman Air and SalamAir have also organised discounted flights for fans.

Kuwait Airways flights from Muscat to Kuwait City are also full in the build-up to the game.

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