Oman ready for tough group matches
Pattaya: Oman head coach Talib Hilal will rely on a mixture of new and experienced players when his team contends at the AFC Beach Soccer Championship Thailand 2019.
The West Asian side are drawn in a difficult group where they face defending champions Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq in Group D.
Hilal expects a strong challenge from his opponents but remains optimistic that his side will pull through the group stage.
“We have 15 teams and there are no weak teams. Any team has a chance to qualify for the next stage. We are in a three-team group and it is very difficult because we are playing against Iran and Iraq,” said Hilal.
“Iran is a strong team but my team is also strong. We’ve played against Iran on so many different occasions and the outcome is always separated by a small margin. Iraq is also a good team and they have the experienced Karim Moghadam as their coach now.”
Hilal is confident the addition of new talents will give his team an extra edge as they aim to improve on their result in the AFC Beach Soccer Championship Malaysia 2017.
“In Oman, Beach Soccer is becoming more popular. We have a long beach. If you go there during the evening, you will see many people are playing beach soccer. We have a lot of upcoming players in Oman and nearly half of the team are new players so I will have a mix of new and seasoned players,” said Hilal.
He added that Oman will have the tactical upperhand as Iran will play against Iraq in their group’s first match.
“They won the Beach Soccer Intercontinental Cup (in November, 2018) and that will be a morale boost for them but we are well prepared for any team. I will watch Iran play against Iraq so that will be our advantage. I’ll watch how they play and prepare my team better,” Hilal explained.
Oman is aiming for a third appearance at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay as the leading three teams at the AFC Beach Soccer Championship Thailand 2019 qualify for the showpiece.
“Everyone wishes to play in the World Cup. We qualified twice (in 2011 and 2015) so this time we will try our best to represent the continent for a third time,” said Hilal.
The second edition of the AFC Beach Soccer Championship Thailand 2019 will welcome 15 teams to Pattaya City from March 7 to 17, 2019.