Goal tells you everything you need to know about the Blue Tigers’ opponents in their next fixture…
FIFA Ranking: 81
Nickname: Al-Ahmar (The Reds)
Last match played: Oman vs Jordan (20 March 2021)
Coach: Branko Ivankovic
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 4 but they finished behind Japan who walked away with the sole qualification berth. Oman are currently second in the ongoing qualifiers, four points behind Qatar (16 points from 6 games) who have played a game more.
After poor form on the international stage before the turn of the millennium, The Reds saw a change in fortune under coach Milan Macala. They qualified for their first-ever Asian 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 qualified 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.
They have slowly established themselves as one of the strongest sides in the Gulf region, as evidenced by their consistency in the Gulf Cup. Oman 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.
Oman started their 2022 World Cup second round qualifiers under Erwin Koeman who succeded Verbeek who led the nation to their best ever run in the 2019 Asian Cup where they faced a Round of 16 exit following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Iran.
Starting off with a 2-1 victory over India in the ongoing qualifiers, thanks to a late double by Al Mandhar Al Alawi (82′, 90′) after Sunil Chhetri had put the Blue Tigers ahead in the 24th minute, Oman suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Group E leaders Qatar sandwiched between comprehensive wins over Afghanistan (3-0) and Bangladesh (4-1).
In November 2019, The Reds did the double over the Indian national team in the joint qualifiers, courtesy a first half strike by Muhsen Al-Ghassani (33′), In the 2019 edition of the Gulf Cup, Oman entered as defending champions but failed to make it past the group stage after a goalless draw against Bahrain and losses against Kuwaits (2-1) and Saudi Arabia (3-1).
Since the Coronavirus pandemic, the Oman national team under new coach Branko Ivankovic last played a friendly against Jordan.
LESSONS FROM THE PAST
India’s last two games against Oman in the ongoing qualifiers having ended in defeats. The two sides also played out a goalless draw in what was a lacklustre affair in their last friendly encounter in the UAE.
The Blue Tigers are yet to beat the Gulf nation and have suffered heavy defeats such as the 5-1 loss in the first ever World Cup qualification tie between the two sides in 2004, the return fixture however ending in a goalless draw in Muscat.
|H-H||GAMES||INDIA WINS||DRAWS||OMAN WINS||GOALS (INDIA)||GOALS (OMAN)||GD (INDIA)||WIN % (INDIA)|
Not many predictions can be made about how Ivanković will field this Oman side. The Reds could line-up in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2.
The midfield is certainly their strength. 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.
Al-Mundhir Al-Alawi, Basil Al-Rawahi, Muhammad Ramadan and Jumah Al-Habsi are not part of the squad due to injuries.
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. ***
|Position||Oman squad for World Cup Qualifier|
Faiz Al Rushaidi, Ibrahim Al Mukhaini, Mazin Al Kasbi
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
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
Arshad Al Alawi, Mohsin Al Ghassani, Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali, Mohammed Al Ghassani