Le Guen: Oman the underdogs against Iran

Le Guen: Oman the underdogs against Iran
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Published September 27th, 2015 - 11:39 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Oman face a tough task against Iran
Oman face a tough task against Iran

Oman coach Paul Le Guen believes the Red Warriors will be the underdogs when they host fancied Iran in a Group D qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on October 8. The match kicks off at 6.30pm.

Speaking to mediapersons on Saturday ahead of Oman’s back-to-back games against Iran and India on October 8 and 13 respectively, Le Guen said, “Against Iran, we are the underdogs, but we will prepare well to put up a fight against them. I hope our boys can create a surprise.”

The coach has called up 26 players for the camp, which began on Saturday, and there were no changes to the squad that travelled to Guam earlier this month.

Oman dropped its first points during its trip to Guam when it was held to a goalless draw by the hosts on September 8.

After three matches, Iran is on top of the table with seven points, while Oman is second, also with the seven points, but trailing on goal-difference. Guam is third, also with seven points, but from four games. Turkmenistan is fourth with one point, while India is at the bottom of group with no point.

Le Guen announced the probables list for the forthcoming two matches against Iran and India. Oman will take on India on October 13 at the Seeb Sports Stadium, but the coach said that efforts are being made by the Oman Football Association (OFA) to move the game to the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

The Frenchman said, “As part of our build-up for the two back-to-back games, Oman will take on Syria in a training game on October 2 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. It will be a very important game for our preparations and I hope to try out different tactics during the match.”

Le Guen added, “The group is tough with Iran the favourite to top it. We can’t afford to drop too many points in such a group if we have to keep our chances of advancing. We are strong at home and have a good record and hopefully we will be able to make the most of it during the next two games. We dropped two points in Guam and it has put us under pressure.

“Iran is a strong team that has big-match experience and has participated in World Cups. Most of its players are with leading clubs, so it’s going to be a tough challenge for us. The coming days are crucial and if we can have good training sessions, then I have faith in my boys to spring a surprise.”

The Oman coach said he prefers stability in the team despite concerns over the lack of goals upfront. “It is a concern and we are trying to work on it. I prefer stability in the team and I think that I have the best players in the squad. The delayed start to the domestic league has affected some players' performance.

“There is a big difference when our players play in the OPL and when they compete at the international level. Against Turkmenistan at home (on September 3), our players, despite their rustiness, fought bravely to win 3-1. I am proud of their spirit and I am hopeful they will give their best against Iran.”

Le Guen said young striker Saud al Farsi is talented, but needs more time to excel at the international level. “I have given him chances against Turkmenistan and Guam, but I expect more from him.”

Oman will be missing striker Abdulaziz al Miqbali and defender Azaan al Balushi for the Iran match as the duo will be travelling with an Omani squad to South Korea for the World Military Games.

Team manager Mohammed al Alawi said all the players are in good shape. “We do not have any injury concerns and I hope the players will have strong fan support in both the games. The players will be looking forward to the home support,” he said.

Also attending the press conference was Khamis al Balushi, the OFA's media director.

Probables for the camp: Ali al Habsi, Faiz al Rusheidi, Mazin al Kasbi; Saad Suhail, Ali al Nahar, Mohammed Sheeba al Balushi, Jaber al Owaisi, Abdulsalam al Amour, Mohammed al Mussallami, Ali al Busaidy, Mohammmed al Hasni, Azaan al Balushi, Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’, Ali al Jabri, Mohsin Jowhar, Raeed Ibrahim, Eid al Farsi, Mohammed al Mashari, Qasim Said, Yassin al Sheyadi, Abdulaziz al Miqbali, Imad al Hosni, Said al Ruzaiqi, Mohammed al Siyabi, Sami al Hassani, Saud al Farsi.

© Apex Press and Publishing

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