Muscat: Oman were drawn in a tough and unpredictable group when the 23rd Gulf Cup Football Championship draw was conducted in Doha on Monday.
The draw ceremony saw hosts Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen placed in Group A. Oman were placed in Group B along with three-time champions Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with a place reserved for Kuwait whose participation is subject to lifting of ban by FIFA.
The 23rd Gulf Cup is scheduled to take place in the Qatari capital from December 23, 2017 to January 5, 2018.
The Oman Football Association (OFA) was represented at the ceremony second vice-chairman Jassim bin Mohammed Al Shukaili, Competitions Committee chief Humaid Al Jabri and General Secretary Said Othman Al Balushi.
Speaking on the occasion, Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation (AGCFF) General Secretary Jassim Al Rumaithi said the tournament will go ahead as scheduled.
According to news agency Reuters, Al Rumaithi also said: “Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahraini had not confirmed their participation in the tournament, and that the competition needed at least five teams under the current format.”
Oman Football Association General Secretary Said Othman Al Balushi is also quoted as having said that delaying the Gulf Cup would be damaging for regional football.
“It will be a negative for the sport in the Gulf countries but we hope that the three countries, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, will be participating,” he said.
Kuwait, who have featured in past competitions, can play only if a suspension by FIFA is lifted in time.
FIFA banned Kuwait’s national soccer federation last year over alleged government interference in the running of the country’s football governing body.