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WC Qualification Asia

Indian National Football Team: Know Your Rivals - Oman

06:54 GMT+3 02/09/2019
India Oman Asian Cup
Goal tells you everything you need to know about the Blue Tigers' opponents in their 2022 World Cup qualifiers ...


QUICK FACTS


Country: Oman

FIFA Ranking: 87

Nickname: Al-Ahmar (The Reds)


Last match played: Oman 1-0 Yemen (28 August 2019)

Coach: Erwin Koeman


TEAM PROFILE


Like India, Oman too have never featured in the World Cup. Their best record in the qualifiers arrived in the 1998 edition when they won four of the six games in Group four but they finished behind Japan who walked away with the sole qualification berth.

After poor form on the international stage before the turn of the millennium, The Reds saw a change in fortune under coach Milan Macala early last decade. They qualified for their first-ever Asia Cup campaign in 2004 and have been consistent on the continental stage ever since.

Oman followed Group stage exits in the 2004, 2007 and 2015 editions with an improved show in 2019 where they qualified to the last-16. They finished as one of the best third-placed sides after finishing behind Uzbekistan and Japan. Oman were then eliminated after a 2-0 defeat to Asian heavyweights Iran.

The Reds have slowly established themselves as one of the strongest sides in the Gulf region, as evidenced by their consistency in the Gulf Cup. They came tantalizingly close to be crowned champions of the eight-team tournament in 2004 under Macala and and repeated the feat in 2007 as well.

The persistence paid off after they finally won the trophy in 2009 under French manager Claude Le Roy. Oman later repeated this feat in 2017 under Pim Verbeek after beating UAE 5-4 on penalties in the final. Ahmed Mubarak Kano was adjudged the most valuable player of the tournament.

It’s fair to say that they are currently in one of the best eras in their history and could better it in the years to come.


RECENT PERFORMANCES


Oman’s best-ever run in the Asian Cup concluded Verbeek’s three-year stint as the manager. Erwin Koeman was announced as his successor and the team traveled to Kuala Lumpur to participate in the Airmarine Cup as their first assignment under the new coach. The four-team friendly tournament that also featured Singapore, Malaysia and Afghanistan.

The Reds thumped Afghanistan 5-0 before edging Singapore on penalties in the final. The Koeman-era thus started on the front foot with two wins in the opening games.

As part of their preparations for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Oman played a friendly game against Yemen on August 28th. A second-half goal from Kano helped them maintain the 100 percent record under the new manager.

This means that Oman have won four of their last five games in all competitions and are in good form ahead of the qualifier.


LESSONS FROM THE PAST


India faced Oman last year in a friendly ahead of the Asia Cup. The pair played out a goalless draw in what was a lacklustre affair in the UAE. The Blue Tigers don’t enjoy a healthy record against The Reds, with their last and only win arriving in 1994. India won the semi-final of the 1994 Independence Cup 4-1 but have heavily suffered against Oman ever since.

H-H GAMES INDIA WINS DRAWS OMAN WINS GOALS (INDIA) GOALS (OMAN) GD (INDIA) WIN % (INDIA)
vs OMAN 7 1 2 4 7 16 -9 14.28

TEAM COMBINATION


Not many predictions can be made about how Koeman will field this Oman side, given he has been in charge for only three games. But given he was assistant to Ronald Koeman at Southampton, it would be fair to assume that the Reds will line-up in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2.

The midfield is certainly their strength and Oman will be looking to crowd it out. It is a toss-up between Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali and Mohsin Al Ghassani for the number nine slot but Salaah Al Yahyaei might have to sacrifice his place for the return of the influential Ahmed Kano.

POSSIBLE LINEUP: Faiz Al Rushaidi (GK); Saad Suhail, Khalid Al Buraiki, Mohammed Al Musalami, Ali Al Busaidi; Harib Al Saadi, Yaseen Al Sheyadi; Mohsin Jawhar Al Khaldi, Ahmed Mubarak 'Kano', Moataz Saleh Rabbo; Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali.


PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR


Saad 'Suhail' Al Mukhaini: The experienced defender could provide the likes of Ashique Kuruniyan a tough time at the back. The former Al-Nassr full-back is capable of playing anywhere in defence but prefers to function on the right. Saad also gave trials for Premier League giants Arsenal in 2012 but stayed in Oman his entire career.

Ahmed Mubarak 'Kano': Oman’s hero from the 2017 Gulf Cup will be their main man in the centre of the pitch. 34-year-old Kano could help his team win the midfield battles and assume a major advantage in the game. Kano scored a brace in Oman’s 5-1 win over India in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers in Kochi.


FULL SQUAD


Position Oman squad for World Cup Qualifier
Goalkeepers

Faiz Al Rushaidi, Ibrahim Al Mukhaini, Mazin Al Kasbi

Defenders

Mohammed Al Musalami, Ali Al Busaidi, Khalid Al Buraiki, Saad Al Mukhaini 'Suhail', Abdulaziz Al Ghailani, Nadir Awadh, Mohammed Faraj Al Rawahi, Imran Al Hadi

Midfielders

Ahmed Al Kaabi, Moataz Saleh Rabbo, Al Mundhir Al Alawi, Salaah Al Yahyaei, Mohamed Khasib Al Hosni, Yaseen Al Sheyadi, Harib Al Saadi, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Mohsin Jawhar Al Khaldi, Ahmed Mubarak 'Kano', Mohammed Al Ghafri

Forwards

Arshad Al Alawi, Mohsin Al Ghassani, Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali, Mohammed Al Ghassani