Muscat: Despite starting their 23rd Gulf Cup campaign with a solitary goal defeat to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman team will be boosted by the words of their coach Pim Verbeek ahead of a crucial match against Kuwait on Monday.
In their Group A opening game, played at Jaber International Stadium in Kuwait City on Friday, Verbeek’s Oman were done in by a 28th minute penalty scored by Ali Ahmed Mabkhour despite controlling the proceedings for a major part of the match.
However, the 2009 champions will go into their second group match against hosts Kuwait with a positive attitude as their coach said he is ‘proud of their the players’ and their performance against the UAE.
“We are not satisfied with the result but I am proud of the players and I am happy with the performance of the team in today’s match,” Verbeek said after the match.
“We have not been able to take advantage of some easy opportunities,” the Dutchman added.
“I think in the first half, we showed too much respect. But then, we played well and we were good in control until that penalty,” Verbeek said.
“After the penalty, the UAE had a couple of more chances. It showed the inexperience of my team. We lacked the final pass and the final touch. Overall, disappointed with the result but happy with the way my team played,” he said.
OFA chief meets players
A day after the match, thanks to encouraging words from coach Verbeek, the Omanis got into the training mode in right frame of mind.
According to the Oman Football Association, the team trained in right earnest at Al Nasr Club in Kuwait City on Saturday morning.
Later in the day, OFA chairman Sheikh Salim Al Wahaibi met the players and Verbeek’s coaching staff at the team hotel.
During the meeting, the OFA chief spoke positively about the team’s performance against the UAE and praised the coaching and technical staff.
He also exhorted the players to give their best in the remaining matches and achieve the desired results.
The match against Kuwait will be vital for Oman’s hopes of making it to the knockout stages.
After Monday’s match against Kuwait, which is scheduled to kick off at 9.00 pm Oman time, Oman will conclude their group engagements with a match against Saudi Arabia on December 28.
Saudi Arabia, who defeated Kuwait 2-1 in the tournament opener on Friday, will take on the UAE on Monday.
Qatar, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen are competing in Group B.
The tournament semifinals will take place on January 2 while the final is slated for January 5.