Muscat: The suspense on who will be picked as Oman national football team coach may well end on Thursday when the board members of the Sultanate’s soccer governing sit to finalise the name.
The Oman Football Association (OFA) sources revealed to Times Sport, the board members are scheduled to meet late in the afternoon at the OFA Headquarters at Seeb Sports Stadium to ‘finalise’ the right candidate for the post that has been lying vacant since Paul Le Guen’s contract was terminated back in November.
“It is likely the board will announce the name tomorrow but it’s not a certainty. But what I can confirm is that board meeting is taking place tomorrow and the main topic of agenda is appointment of national team coach,” one source said on condition of anonymity.
It’s is believed that association is not interested in hiring a ‘big name’ coach this time around as they did in 2008 when they roped in Frenchman Claude Le Roy, leading to their successful Gulf Cup campaign at home the following year, and in 2011 when they signed Paul Le Guen, on the recommendation of departing Le Roy.
Going by the speculations as well as the hints given by the reliable sources from within the association, the OFA board may prefer an Omani coach from the list of applicants.
Initially the special committee formed to overlook recruitment process had prepared a list of seven candidates, including two Omanis, for the board to discuss and finalise the right man for the job.
However, the OFA board members will be discussing only five names in Thursday’s meeting.
Ahmed Al Mayyasi, the head of the committee, told Times Sport: “Yes. Now it is down to five candidates.”
While refusing to reveal any further details, he said: “Of the five, two are Omani coaches and three are from Europe.”
Al Azzani is the man!
Though the board members will be looking into five applications, everyone is expecting them to choose Oman Olympic (U-23) team coach Hamad Al Azzani, one of the two experienced Omani coaches who applied for the job, the other being Rasheed Jaber.
And rightly so. Not just because of his experience but also due to two factors that indicate to their interest in Al Azzani.
First, the OFA, interestingly, has sent Al Azzani, along with Oman U-17 team coach Yacoub Al Sabahi, to Qatar for a nine-day stint with Germany’s Bayern Munich, who are currently undergoing training camp in Doha. That stint ends on Thursday. Secondly, Al Azzani is towards end of his two-year contract, signed on May 25 in 2014, with the Oman-23 team.
However, one cannot rule out Rasheed Jaber’s chances as he has coached national team back in 1995-96 and later in 2002. He also has the distinction of leading Oman to title triumph at the 2015 GCC Under-19 Championship.
Al Azzani, a former Al Nadha Club player, is quite an experienced Omani coach having had long stints with Al Nahda. He also served the senior national team twice as caretaker and as assistant coach on two occasions, before being handed the reins of the team from 2010 to 2011.
Interestingly, Al Azzani sort of lost his job to Pal Le Guen twice in the past.
In 2011, Al Azzani was replaced by Le Guen as the national team coach. And then in 2012, the Frenchman took over the Under-23 team even though the Omani coach guided them to the Asian play-offs of the London Olympics football competition.
For the record, under Le Guen, the team won the Asian play-offs but lost the inter-continental play-off and with that the final Olympic qualifying berth to Senegal.
If speculations come right, probably, it will be Al Azzani’s turn to take the post vacated by Paul Le Guen.