Hosts USA outplay Oman in a friendly

Sports Wednesday 13/September/2023 12:18 PM
By: Times News Service
Hosts USA outplay Oman in a friendly
Image courtesy- @OmanFA twitter handle

Muscat: The gulf in the FIFA world rankings between the United States and Oman was evident during the international friendly at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday [4.30am kickoff, Oman time, on Wednesday] as the hosts romped home with a 4-0 win over the Red Warriors.

Branko Ivankovic-coached Oman are ranked 73rd while the USA are placed as high as No.11 in the world. The Red Warriors, who are preparing themselves for the FIFA Asian Qualifiers and Asian Cup, did exhibit flashes of brilliance as they held their fancied rivals at bay to concede just one goal in the first 45 minutes.

Striker Folarin Balogun opened the scoring for the hosts, coached by Greg Berhalter, as early as in the 13th minute of the match. It was his second goal since switching national allegiances.

Monaco forward Balogun had switched from England in May and scored in the Nations League final against Canada a month later.

A fierce strike by teammate Sergino Dest was parried out by Oman keeper Ibrahim Al Mukhaini, and Balogun reacted swiftly to bury the loose ball.

The USA had been far from impressive in their 3-0 win over Uzbekistan on Saturday but looked sharper and they doubled their lead on the hour through Brenden Aaronson.

The midfielder, who plays in Germany for Union Berlin, drilled a free-kick through a porous Oman wall and past the unsighted Al Mukhaini to make it 2-0.

Aaronson went close to add another with a fine solo run and low shot which the Oman keeper did well to get down to but the third goal arrived soon enough with Ricardo Pepi who found the target for the second straight game.

DeJuan Jones broke down the right and found Pepi with a low ball into the box which the striker collected before spinning sharply and firing into the bottom corner.

The fourth goal came via two players USA coach Berhalter had brought on to make their debuts - Benjamin Cremaschi found Kevin Parades down the right and his low cross was turned into his own net by the sliding Oman defender Khalid Al Breiki.

The US thoroughly dominated from start to finish, firing 19 shots to Oman's seven.

Later, coach Berhalter told FOX Sports: "It wasn't specifically ‘when we score don't let up,' it was like we need to bring more intensity than we bought last game.

"And we need to threaten the backline with runs behind more than we did last game. I thought that was really poor last game [vs Uzbekistan], and we need to be cleaner on the ball. And there were still times where it takes a little bit too long, [we] hold on to the ball a little bit too much. But overall, it was it was a great effort by the guys."

For Oman, the team will return for players to play in the domestic season before regrouping in November ahead of their FIFA second round Asian qualifiers.

Oman have been drawn in Group D of joint FIFA and Asian Cup Qualifiers second round with Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia and winner of Chinese Taipei vs Timor Leste match, who feature among 20 nations in the first round. Oman’s opening Group D match will be on November 16 at home against Chinese Taipei or Timor Leste.

The second-round matches will be held from November 16, 2023-June 11, 2024.

Those 10 nations from the first round join the remaining 26 in the second round, which will feature nine groups of four nations, with the winners and runners-up then progressing through to the third round.

The 18 nations that reach the third round will be divided into three groups of six, via a draw conducted at a later date, with the top two nations in each group qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.

The fourth round consists of the half-dozen nations that finished third and fourth in the third round being slotted into two groups of three, with the winner of both groups also receiving a direct ticket to the FIFA World Cup.

The fifth round features the two runners-up from the fourth-round clashing in a two-legged, home-and-away tie to determine Asia’s representative in the FIFA play-off tournament.