Perfect Oman take on China on Thursday for a place in semis

Sports Wednesday 22/March/2023 22:35 PM
By: Times News Service
Perfect Oman take on China on Thursday for a place in semis

Muscat: The winning momentum is in favour of Oman as they take on strong China in the quarter-finals of the AFC Beach Soccer Asian Cup Thailand 2023 at the Jomtien Beach Arena in Pattaya, Thailand, on Thursday.

Oman, coached by experienced Talib Hilal, finished unbeaten to top Group D and will be hoping to keep the winning rhythm as they seek a berth in the semi-finals.

Oman were Asian champions in 2015 and will take on twice-semi-finalists China, who advanced as the Group C runners-up, winning two matches but losing 6-1 to defending champions Japan.

Familiarity will be the key for both the coaches as China head coach Marcelo Mendes revealed that he has known his Oman counterpart Talib Hilal for almost 15 years as they had both started coaching beach soccer at almost the same time.

Hilal said he had enormous respect for Mendes and China, but his team, like all the seven other quarter-finalists, are here to compete and not just participate.

“We have been getting better from match to match, but the real tournament starts tomorrow and there are no second chances. If you lose, you’re out.”

Oman will head into the quarter-final with confidence after storming through Group D with a perfect record of three wins, scoring 17 and conceding just two.

Mendes said: “We know each other and our teams have met many times. And this (coaching) is our work, to try to make something different and to surprise each other, which is our job for tomorrow." He said his side would have to improve from their group stage performance.

“We have worked very hard to be here and will try to compete on the same level as Oman. We have been collecting information on them and will analyse their games to come up with a winning strategy.

“We will attempt to play a good game tomorrow and surprise everyone. To many, we are the surprise team in the last eight, but not to me.”

Oman will have all their players available while China will have to take to the pitch without a key figure. “Our captain (Liu Yisi) is serving a three-match suspension, and of course we are going to miss him,” said Mendes. “But apart from that, we have a complete team.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Oman showed resilience to beat Palestine 5-1 to finish their league engagements. Kuwait joined Oman in the last eight after edging Kyrgyzstan 3-2 on penalties following a 4-4 draw. Hilal’s men began their campaign with a 7-0 win over Kyrgyzstan on March 17 and then routed Kuwait 5-1 two days later.