ASIAN CUP QUALIFIERS: WIN FOR OMAN WILL SEAL ASIAN CUP SPOT
Last Updated: 2017-10-10
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MALE, Maldives, Oct 10 (NNN-ONA) - Oman coach, Pim Verbeek, will be looking for nothing less than a victory against hosts Maldives, in a crucial Group D match, of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, at the National Stadium in Male tonight. The match kicks-off at 8.00 pm.

A victory against Maldives will secure Oman a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE, while Maldives need to avoid a defeat to stay alive in the competition.

Verbeek's Red Warriors have six points from three games, and are second in the group behind table-topper Palestine, which has nine points. A win for Palestine against minnow Bhutan tonight, will also seal its qualification.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Verbeek said, “We had a good camp in the UAE and the friendly match against Jordan [1-1] was beneficial for the team. I tried out different combinations during the match against Jordan and could gauge the readiness of the players.

“The match against Maldives will be tough and I expect the boys to give their best and win.”

Oman had trounced Maldives 5-0 in its home game last month, in Muscat. However, the experienced Dutchman said, “Past results do not matter much and each match is a new challenge. Our mission is to clinch three points tonight.”

Oman team will be boosted by the return of experienced and No 1 goalkeeper, Ali al Habsi, who will lead the team in Male.

Habsi said, “The team is ready and we are confident of a win.”

Meanwhile, Maldives coach, Darren Stewart, will hope to avoid a defeat against Oman, as a loss will bring an end to its hopes of an Asian Cup berth.

The Maldives lie in third place with three points after its win against Bhutan.

“As always, we will be out there trying to win, if we win we are still in it, but if we lose we are out,” says Stewart. “So we will give it everything against one of the Middle East's most powerful football nations.

“Oman is a very organised, and an extremely strong and fit team, who have been on numerous camps to qualify for the Asian Cup, so we, the players and the coaching staff, know what we are up against.”

“As you know, we have a tough group and to still be in with a chance of qualifying with three matches to go is a testament to the effort of all the players,” said Stewart.

Despite the challenge that the Maldives team has faced against the bigger teams in the group – Oman has appeared at the Asian Cup Finals on three occasions, while Palestine made its debut in 2015 – Stewart believes the campaign has brought positives for the country.

“We will benefit in the long term from our experience in this competition, especially in terms of being fitter and our organisation in preparing for all our matches,” he said.-- NNN-ONA