Our focus is to win the match against Yemen: Ivankovic

Sports Sunday 08/January/2023 20:15 PM
By: Times News Service
Our focus is to win the match against Yemen: Ivankovic

Muscat: Oman will be looking to earn full points against Yemen when the teams face each other in a Group A match of the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup at the Basra International Stadium in Iraq on Monday. The match kicks off at 5.15pm, Oman time.
Oman had shared the spoils in their opening clash with hosts Iraq after a goalless draw while Saudi Arabia won their match against Yemen to go top of the group after the opening day’s matches.
Coached by Croatian Branko Ivankovic, the Red Warriors’ go into Monday’s game favourite on paper. Oman is placed 75th in FIFA world rankings as compared to 154th of Yemen. However, Ivankovic dismissed the notion that the “match will be an easy outing.”
Speaking on the eve of the match, Ivankovic said: “We are not afraid of any teams in the competition. There are no easy matches at this level. We are higher-ranked and better as a team on paper as compared to Yemen. But we respect our opponents. It is not going to be a cakewalk as the match is important for both the teams. Our focus is to win the match tomorrow. The opening game was a difficult one but we managed to earn a point.”
A victory will ease Oman’s path into the next round and Ivankovic said: “It is important for our players to concentrate on the pitch and produce a good performance.”
The coach said that Salah al Yahyaei is ready for the game against Yemen, having missed the opener against Iraq but said that the final XI will be only decided tomorrow. “We will miss Amjad al Harthy as he has not fully recovered from injury in the match against Iraq. Other than Amjad, all the players are ready,” the Croatian added.
Experienced defender Mohammed al Musalami, who also attended the pre-match press conference, said: “Yemen did play well against Saudi Arabia. We can’t take them lightly. We will look for an outright victory to boost our chances to advance to the knockout rounds.”
Yemen’s coach Miroslav Soukup of Czech Republic said: “The match against Oman is important. Oman are one of the favourites to win the tournament. It will be a tough match against them but my boys will strive to give their best.”
In the second match of the evening, Saudi Arabia will take on hosts Iraq. Both Oman and Iraq have a point each while Yemen are yet to open their account.