Muscat: Oman’s national football team coach Erwin Koeman has said that his players were not to blame for the team’s early exit from the Arabian Gulf Cup, as they gave everything to ensure they succeeded. Defending champions Oman were eliminated on goal difference from the 24th Arabian Gulf Cup, which is being held in Doha, Qatar, after losing 3-1 to Saudi Arabia in their final Group B game.
The Sultanate needed either a win or a draw to go through or, failing that, a goal difference that was superior to both Kuwait and Bahrain, the other two teams in their group. Oman had previously played out a goalless draw against Bahrain while beating Kuwait 2-1, but Bahrain’s 3-2 win on Kuwait saw the island nation get through to the semi-finals because although they had the same results, their goal difference was better.
In terms of scoring a second goal against the Saudis to give Oman a chance of progressing in the competition, Koeman said, “We had chances as well to score the second, and that means that we were probably wrong. You need some luck, but I cannot blame the players, because they did everything. They worked very hard, they fought, and in the game, whether we needed a goal or didn’t need a goal, finally, we are not going through. That is what counts.”
“I think that if we were to evaluate this tournament and our performance, we had to do better, and we must take steps to move ahead, because that is the most important thing,” he added. “Surely, if you see the difference today, in a technical way, in the fastness and in terms of a good first touch, we can learn a lot from that, but we have to improve. That is my personal opinion.”
Koeman said he felt very sad during the final minutes of the game, when the team collectively realised they would be exiting the tournament in the group stages. “In the last 10 minutes, we knew that we had already been eliminated from the tournament,” he admitted. “It was a very sad realisation. We played with the best teams at the championship and the differences were there to be seen, in the technical and physical aspects of the game, which I have always been talking about.”
On his future as manager of Oman’s national team, Erwin Koeman added, “I am not worried about quitting as coach, never, and this decision will be made by the administrators. We have learned a lot during this tournament and we have to develop ourselves if we want to go forward.”
Both Gulf Cup semifinal games are scheduled to take place on Thursday, with Group A winners Iraq taking on Group B runners-up Bahrain at 6:30pm Oman time (Gulf Standard Time), followed by Saudi Arabia, who ended up Group B winners, playing Group A runners-up and hosts Qatar at 9pm.