The twin title successes of Oman's age-group football teams (U17 and U19) at the GCC level hasn't come as a surprise for the man who is responsible for the sport in the sultanate, Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy.
The chairman of the Oman Football Association (OFA) sounded more satisfied than surprised after Saturday night's GCC title triumph by the country's U19 team in Doha, Qatar.
Oman edged past Bahrain 5-3 in a penalty shootout to lay hands on the winner's trophy, two weeks after the Oman U17 team claimed the GCC crown, also in Doha.
Sayyid Khalid, along with H E Sheikh Rashad al Hinai, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, led the welcome party that received the victorious U19 team at Muscat International Airport on Sunday evening
In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily, Sayyid Khalid said, “The glory achieved by our new generation of players augurs well for the nation. It is an achievement that we can all be proud of.”
He added, “The players from these two teams (U19, U17), along with the U23 Olympic squad, will constitute the senior national squad by the time the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is round the corner. To reach there is our target. A strong foundation has been laid and a target has been set by us. We are working towards achieving it.”
Sayyid Khalid complimented the coaches of the two teams, Yaqoob al Sabahi (U17) and Rasheed Jaber (U19). “The two Omanis have set the bar for our local coaches. They deserve all the credit,” he said.
Outlining the reasons for the success of the age-group teams, the OFA chairman said, “There are many reasons. The successes have come after careful planning and foresight by the OFA's technical department.
“Also, we changed the format of the U16 and U19 leagues a couple of years ago. Earlier, the leagues used to be played for just a couple of months during the summer, which didn't yield the desired result. We then decided to run the leagues throughout the season. Along with that, the OFA's academies and youth development programmes seem to have started delivering results.”
Sayyid Khalid said, “All these programmes and the planning couldn't have been possible without the financial support through the Royal grant provided by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.”
The OFA boss added, “We have a road map for football development in the sultanate and we need to ensure that we stick to that plan and not get distracted by any hurdles. The targets are clearly identified and we shall reach there, no matter what the challenges are.”
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